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The Crucible 
Arthur Miller 




A NOTE ON THE HISTORICAL ACCURACY OF THIS PLAY 


This play is not history in the sense in which the word is used by the academic 
historian. Dramatic purposes have sometimes required many characters to be fused into 
one; the number of girls involved in the “crying-out” has been reduced; Abigail’s age 
has been raised; while there were several judges of almost equal authority, I have 
symbolized them all in Hathorne and Danforth. However, I believe that the reader will 
discover here the essential nature of one of the strangest and most awful chapters in 
human history. The fate of each character is exactly that of his historical model, and 
there is no one in the drama who did not play a similar - and in some cases exactly the 
same - role in history. 

As for the characters of the persons, little is known about most of them excepting 
what may be surmised from a few letters, the trial record, certain broadsides written at 
the time, and references to their conduct in sources of varying reliability. They may 
therefore be taken as creations of my own, drawn to the best of my ability in conformity 
with their known behavior, except as indicated in the commentary 1 have written for this 
text. 



ACT ONE 
(AN OVERTURE) 


A small upper bedroom in the home of Reverend Samuel Parris, Salem, 
Massachusetts, in the spring of the year 1692. 

There is a narrow window at the left. Through its leaded panes the morning 
sunlight streams. A candle still burns near the bed, which is at the right. A 
chest, a chair, and a small table are the other furnishings. At the back a door 
opens on the landing of the stairway to the ground floor. The room gives op an 
air of clean spareness. The roof rafters are exposed, and the wood colors are 
raw and unmellowed. 

As the curtain rises, Reverend Parris is discovered kneeling be-side the bed, 
evidently in prayer. His daughter, Betty Parris, aged ten, is lying on the bed, 
inert. 

At the time of these events Parris was in his middle forties. In history he cut a 
villainous path, and there is very little good to be said for him. He believed he 
was being persecuted wherever he went, despite his best efforts to win people 
and God to his side. In meeting, he felt insulted if someone rose to shut the door 
without first asking his permission. He was a widower with no interest in 
children, or talent with them. He regarded them as 

3 



The Crucible 


young adults, and until this strange crisis he, like the rest of Salem, never conceived that 
the children were anything but thankful for being permitted to walk straight, eyes 
slightly low-ered, arms at the sides, and mouths shut until bidden to speak. 

His house stood in the “town” - but we today would hardly call it a village. The 
meeting house was nearby, and from this point outward - toward the bay or inland - 
there were a few small-windowed, dark houses snuggling against the raw Massa- 
chusetts winter. Salem had been established hardly forty years before. To the European 
world the whole province was a bar-baric frontier inhabited by a sect of fanatics who, 
nevertheless, were shipping out products of slowly increasing quantity and value. 

No one can really know what their lives were like. They had no novelists - and would 
not have permitted anyone to read a novel if one were handy. Their creed forbade 
anything re-sembling a theater or “vain enjoyment.” They did not celebrate Christmas, 
and a holiday from work meant only that they must concentrate even more upon prayer. 

Which is not to say that nothing broke into this strict and somber way of life. When a 
new farmhouse was built, friends assembled to “raise the roof,” and there would be 
special foods cooked and probably some potent cider passed around. There was a good 
supply of ne’er-do-wells in Salem, who dallied at the shovelboard in Bridget Bishop’s 
tavern. Probably more than the creed, hard work kept the morals of the place from 
spoiling, for the people were forced to fight the land like heroes for every grain of com, 
and no man had very much time for fooling around. 

That there were some jokers, however, is indicated by the practice of appointing a 
two-man patrol whose duty was to “walk forth in the time of God’s worship to take 
notice of such as either lye about the meeting house, without attending to the word and 
ordinances, or that lye at home or in the fields with-out giving good account thereof, and 
to take the names of such 



Act One 


5 


persons, and to present them to the magistrates, whereby they may be accordingly 
proceeded against.” Thi s predilection for minding other people’s business was time- 
honored among the people of Salem, and it undoubtedly created many of the sus-picions 
which were to feed the coming madness. It was also, in my opinion, one of the things 
that a John Proctor would rebel against, for the time of the armed camp had almost 
passed, and since the country was reasonably - although not wholly - safe, the old 
disciplines were beginning to rankle. But, as in all such matters, the issue was not clear- 
cut, for danger was still a possibility, and in unity still lay the best promise of safety. 

The edge of the wilderness was close by. The American con-tinent stretched endlessly 
west, and it was full of mystery for them. It stood, dark and threatening, over their 
shoulders night and day, for out of it Indian tribes marauded from time to time, and 
Reverend Parris had parishioners who had lost relatives to these heathen. 

The parochial snobbery of these people was partly responsible for their failure to 
convert the Indians. Probably they also pre-ferred to take land from heathens rather than 
from fellow Christians. At any rate, very few Indians were converted, and the Salem 
folk believed that the virgin forest was the Devil’s last preserve, his home base and the 
citadel of his final stand. To the best of their knowledge the American forest was the last 
place on earth that was not paying homage to God. 

For these reasons, among others, they carried about an air of innate resistance, even of 
persecution. Their fathers had, of course, been persecuted in England. So now they and 
their church found it necessary to deny any other sect its freedom; lest their New 
Jerusalem be defiled and corrupted by wrong ways and deceitful ideas. 

They believed, in short, that they held in their steady hands the candle that would 
light the world. We have inherited this belief, and it has helped and hurt us. It helped 
them with the discipline it gave them. They were a dedicated folk, by and large, 



6 


The Crucible 


and they had to be to survive the life they had chosen or been bom into in this 
country. 

The proof of their beliefs value to them may be taken from the opposite 
character of the first Jamestown settlement, farther south, in Virginia. The 
Englishmen who landed there were motivated mainly by a hunt for profit. They 
had thought to pick off the wealth of the new country and then return rich to 
Eng-land. They were a band of individualists, and a much more ingratiating 
group than the Massachusetts men. But Virginia destroyed them. Massachusetts 
tried to kill off the Puritans, but they combined; they set up a communal society 
which, in the beginning, was little more than an armed camp with an auto-cratic 
and very devoted leadership. It was, however, an autoc-racy by consent, for they 
were united from top to bottom by a commonly held ideology whose 
perpetuation was the reason and justification for all their sufferings. So their 
self-denial, their purposefulness, their suspicion of all vain pursuits, their hard- 
handed justice, were altogether perfect instruments for the con-quest of this 
space so antagonistic to man. 

But the people of Salem in 1692 were not quite the dedicated folk that arrived 
on the Mayflower. A vast differentiation had taken place, and in their own time 
a revolution had unseated the royal government and substituted a junta which 
was at this moment in power. The times, to their eyes, must have been out of 
joint, and to the common folk must have seemed as insoluble and complicated 
as do ours today. It is not hard to see how easily many could have been led to 
believe that the time of confusion had been brought upon them by deep and 
darkling forces. No hint of such speculation appears on the court record, but 
social disorder in any age breeds such mystical suspicions, and when, as in 
Salem, wonders are brought forth from below the social surface, it is too much 
to expect people to hold back very long from laying on the victims with all the 
force of their frustrations. 

The Salem tragedy, which is about to begin in these pages, 



Act One 


7 


developed from a paradox. It is a paradox in whose grip we still live, and there is no 
prospect yet that we will discover its res-olution. Simply, it was this: for good purposes, 
even high pur-poses, the people of Salem developed a theocracy, a combine of state and 
religious power whose function was to keep the com-munity together, and to prevent 
any kind of disunity that might open it to destruction by material or ideological enemies. 
It was forged for a necessary purpose and accomplished that pur-pose. But all 
organization is and must be grounded on the idea of exclusion and prohibition, just as 
two objects cannot occupy the same space. Evidently the time came in New England 
when the repressions of order were heavier than seemed warranted by the dangers 
against which the order was organized. The witch-hunt was a perverse manifestation of 
the panic which set in among all classes when the balance began to turn toward greater 
individual freedom. 

When one rises above the individual villainy displayed, one can only pity them all, 
just as we shall be pitied someday. It is still impossible for man to organize his social 
life without repressions, and the balance has yet to be struck between order and 
freedom. 

The witch-hunt was not, however, a mere repression. It was also, and as importantly, 
a long overdue opportunity for every-one so inclined to express publicly his guilt and 
sins, under the cover of accusations against the victims. It suddenly became possible - 
and patriotic and holy - for a man to say that Martha Corey had come into his bedroom 
at night, and that, while his wife was sleeping at his side, Martha laid herself down on 
his chest and “nearly suffocated him.” Of course it was her spirit only, but his 
satisfaction at confessing himself was no lighter than if it had been Martha herself. One 
could not ordinarily speak such things in public. 

Long-held hatreds of neighbors could now be openly ex-pressed, and vengeance 
taken, despite the Bible’s charitable injunctions. Land-lust which had been expressed 
before by con- 



The Crucible 


stant bickering over boundaries and deeds, could now be ele-vated to the arena of 
morality; one could cry witch against one’s neighbor and feel perfectly justified in the 
bargain. Old scores could be settled on a plane of heavenly combat between Lucifer and 
the Lord; suspicions and the envy of the miserable toward the happy could and did burst 
out in the general revenge. 

Reverend Parris is praying now, and, though we cannot hear his words, a sense of his 
confusion hangs about him. He mumbles, then seems about to weep; then he weeps, 
then, prays again; but his daughter does not stir on the bed. 

The door opens, and his Negro slave enters. Tituba is in her forties. Parris brought her 
with him from Barbados, where he spent some years as a merchant before entering the 
ministry’. She enters as one does who can no longer bear to be barred from the sight of 
her beloved, but she is also very frightened because her slave sense has warned her 
that, as always, trouble in this house eventually lands on her back. 

Tituba, already taking a step backward: My Betty be hearty soon? 

Parris: Out of here! 

Tituba, backing to the door: My Betty not goin’ die... 

Parris, scrambling to his feet in a fury: Out of my sight! She is gone. Out of my - He is 
overcome with sobs. He clamps his teeth against them and closes the door and leans 
against it, ex-hausted. Oh, my God! God help me! Quaking with fear, mum-bling to 
himself through his sobs, he goes to the bed and gently takes Betty ’s hand. Betty. Child. 
Dear child. Will you wake, will you open up your eyes! Betty, little one... 

He is bending to kneel again when his niece, Abigail Williams, seventeen, enters - a 
strikingly beautiful girl, an orphan, with an 



Act One 


9 


endless capacity for dissembling. Now she is all worry’ and appre-hension and 
propriety. 

Abigail: Uncle? He looks to her. Susanna Walcott’s here from Doctor Griggs. 
Parris: Oh?. Let her come, let her come. 

Abigail, leaning out the door to call to Susanna, who is down the hall a few 
steps: Come in, Susanna. 

Susanna Walcott, a little younger than Abigail, a nervous, hur-ried girl, enters. 
Parris, eagerly: What does the doctor say, child? 

Susanna, craning around Parris to get a look at Betty: He bid me come and tell 
you, reverend sir, that he cannot discover no medicine for it in his books. 

Parris: Then he must search on. 

Susanna: Aye, sir, he have been searchin’ his books since he left you, sir. But he 
bid me tell you, that you might look to un-natural things for the cause of it. 

Parris, his eyes going wide: No - no. There be no unnatural cause here. Tell him 
I have sent for Reverend Hale of Beverly, and Mr. Hale will surely confirm that. 
Let him look to medicine and put out all thought of unnatural causes here. There 
be none. 

Susanna: Aye, sir. He bid me tell you. She turns to go. 

Abigail: Speak nothin’ of it in the village, Susanna. 

Parris: Go directly home and speak nothing of unnatural causes. 

Susanna: Aye, sir. 1 pray for her. She goes out. 

Abigail: Uncle, the rumor of witchcraft is all about; I thi nk 



10 


The Crucible 


you’d best go down and deny it yourself. The parlor’s packed with people, sir. I’ll sit 
with her. 

Parris, pressed, turns on her: And what shall I say to them? That my daughter 
and my niece I discovered dancing like heathen in the forest? 

Abigail: Uncle, we did dance; let you tell them I confessed it - and I’ll be 
whipped if I must be. But they’re speakin’ of witch-craft. Betty’s not witched. 

Parris: Abigail, I cannot go before the congregation when I know you have not 
opened with me. What did you do with her in the forest? 

Abigail: We did dance, uncle, and when you leaped out of the bush so suddenly, 
Betty was frightened and then she fainted. And there’s the whole of it. 

Parris: Child. Sit you down. 

Abigail, quavering, as she sits: I would never hurt Betty. I love her dearly. 

Parris; Now look you, child, your punishment will come in its time. But if you 
trafficked with spirits in the forest I must know it now, for surely my enemies 
will, and they will ruin me with it. 

Abigail: But we never conjured spirits. 

Parris: Then why can she not move herself since midnight? This child is 
desperate! Abigail lowers her eyes. It must come out - my enemies will bring it 
out. Let me know what you done there. Abigail, do you understand that I have 
many enemies? 

Abigail: I have heard of it, uncle. 

Parris: There is a faction that is sworn to drive me from my pulpit. Do you 
understand that? 


Abigail: I think so, sir. 



Act One 


11 


Parris: Now then, in the midst of such disruption, my own household is discovered to 
be the very center of some obscene practice. Abominations are done in the forest - 

Abigail: It were sport, uncle! 

Parris, pointing at Betty: You call this sport? She lowers her eyes. He pleads: Abigail, 
if you know something that may help the doctor, for God’s sake tell it to me. She is 
silent. I saw Tituba waving her arms over the fire when 1 came on you. Why was she 
doing that? And I heard a screeching and gibberish coming from her mouth. She were 
swaying like a dumb beast over that fire! 

Abigail: She always sings her Barbados songs, and we dance. 

Parris: I cannot blink what I saw, Abigail, for my enemies will not blink it. I saw a 
dress lying on the grass. 

Abigail, innocently: A dress? 

Parris - it is very: hard to say: Aye, a dress. And 1 thought I saw - someone naked 
running through the trees! 

Abigail, in terror: No one was naked! You mistake yourself, uncle! 

PARRIs, with anger: I saw it! He moves from her. Then, re-solved: Now tell me true, 
Abigail. And I pray you feel the weight of truth upon you, for now my ministry’s at 
stake, my ministry and perhaps your cousin’s life. Whatever abomination you have 
done, give me all of it now, for 1 dare not be taken unaware when I go before them 
down there. 

Abigail: There is nothin’ more. 1 swear it, uncle. 

Parris, studies her, then nods, half convinced: Abigail, I have Sought here three long 
years to bend these stiff-necked people to me, and now, just now when some good 
respect is rising for me in the parish, you compromise my very character. I have 



12 


The Crucible 


given you a home, child, I have put clothes upon your back - now give me upright 
answer. Your name in the town - it is en-tirely white, is it not? 

Abigail, with an edge of resentment: Why, I am sure it is, sir. There be no blush about 
my name. 

Parris, to the point: Abigail, is there any other cause than you have told me, for your 
being discharged from Goody Proc-tor’s service? I have heard it said, and I tell you as I 
heard it, that she comes so rarely to the church this year for she will not sit so close to 
something soiled. What signified that remark? 

Abigail: She hates me, uncle, she must, for I would not be her slave. It’s a bitter woman, 
a lying, cold, sniveling woman, and I will not work for such a woman! 

Parris: She may be. And yet it has troubled me that you are now seven month out of 
their house, and in all this time no other family has ever called for your service. 

Abigail: They want slaves, not such as I. Let them send to Barbados for that. I will not 
black my face for any of them! With ill-concealed resentment at him: Do you begrudge 
my bed, uncle? 

Parris: No - no. 

Abigail, in a temper: My name is good in the village! I will not have it said my name is 
soiled! Goody Proctor is a gossiping liar! 

Enter Mrs. Ann Putnam. She is a twisted soul of forty-five, a death-ridden woman, 
haunted by dreams. 

Parris, as soon as the door begins to open: No - no, I cannot have anyone'. He sees her, 
and a certain deference springs into him, although his worry > remains. Why, Goody 
Putnam, come in. 

Mrs. Putnam, full of breath, shiny-eyed: It is a marvel. It is surely a stroke of hell upon 
you. 



Act One Parris: No, Goody Putnam, it is - 13 

Mrs. Putnam, glancing at Betty’ : How high did she fly, how high? 

Parris: No, no, she never flew - 

Mrs. Putnam, very > pleased with it: Why, it’s sure she did. Mr. Collins saw her 
goin’ over Ingersoll’s bam, and come down light as bird, he says! 

Parris: Now, look you, Goody Putnam, she never - Enter Thomas Putnam , a 
well-to-do, hard-handed landowner, near fifty. Oh, good morning, Mr. Putnam. 

Putnam: It is a providence the thing is out now! It is a provi-dence. He goes 
directly to the bed. 

Parris: What’s out, sir, what’s - ? 

Mrs. Putnam goes to the bed. 

Putnam, looking down at Betty: Why, her eyes is closed! Look you, Ann. 

Mrs. Putnam: Why, that’s strange. To Parris: Ours is open. Parris, shocked: 
Your Ruth is sick? 

Mrs. PuTNAM, with vicious certainty: I’d not call it sick; the Devil’s touch is 
heavier than sick. It’s death, y’know, it’s death drivin’ into them, forked and 
hoofed. 

Parris: Oh, pray not! Why, how does Ruth ail? 

Mrs. Putnam: She ails as she must - she never waked this morning, but her eyes 
open and she walks, and hears naught, sees naught, and cannot eat. Her soul is 
taken, surely. 

Parris is struck. 

PuTNAM, as though for further details: They say you’ve sent for Reverend 
Hale of Beverly? 



14 


The Crucible 


Parris, with dwindling conviction now: A precaution only. He has much experience in 
all demonic-arts, and I - 

Mrs. Putnam: He has indeed; and found a witch in Beverly last year, and let you 
remember that. 

Parris: Now, Goody Ann, they only thought that were a witch, and I am certain 
there be no element of witchcraft here. 

Putnam: No witchcraft! Now look you, Mr. Parris - 

PaRRis: Thomas, Thomas, 1 pray you, leap not to witchcraft. I know that you - 
you least of all, Thomas, would ever wish so disastrous a charge laid upon me. 
We cannot leap to witchcraft. They will howl me out of Salem for such 
corruption in my house. 

A word about Thomas Putnam. He was a man with many grievances, at least 
one of which appears justified. Some time before, his wife’s brother-in-law, 
James Bayley, had been turned down as minister of Salem. Bayley had all the 
qualifications, and a two-thirds vote into the bargain, but a faction stopped his 
acceptance, for reasons that are not clear. 

Thomas Putnam was the eldest son of the richest man in the village. He had 
fought the Indians at Narragansett, and was deeply interested in parish affairs. 
He undoubtedly felt it poor payment that the village should so blatantly 
disregard his candi-date for one of its more important offices, especially since 
he regarded himself as the intellectual superior of most of the people around 
him. 

His vindictive nature was demonstrated long before the witch-craft began. 
Another former Salem minister, George Burroughs, had had to borrow money 
to pay for his wife’s funeral, and, since the parish was remiss in his salary, he 
was soon bankrupt. Thomas and his brother John had Burroughs jailed for debts 
the man did not owe. The incident is important only in that Burroughs 
succeeded in becoming minister where Bayley, 



Act One 


15 


Thomas Putnam’s brother-in-law, had been rejected; the motif of resentment is 
clear here. Thomas Putnam felt that his own name and the honor of his family 
had been smirched by the village, and he meant to right matters however he 
could. 

Another reason to believe him a deeply embittered man was his attempt to 
break his father’s will, which left a dispropor-tionate amount to a stepbrother. 
As with every other public cause in which he tried to force his way, he failed in 
this. 

So it is not surprising to find that so many accusations against people are in 
the handwriting of Thomas Putnam, or that his name is so often found as a 
witness corroborating the super-natural testimony, or that his daughter led the 
crying-out at the most opportune junctures of the trials, especially when - But 
we’ll speak of that when we come to it. 

Putnum - at the moment he is intent upon getting Parris, for whom he has only 
contempt, to move toward the abyss: Mr. Parris, 1 have taken your part in all 
contention here, and I would continue; but I cannot if you hold back in this. 
There are hurtful, vengeful spirits layin’ hands on these children. 

Parris: But, Thomas, you cannot - 

Putnam: Ann! Tell Mr. Parris what you have done. 

MRs. Putnam: Reverend Parris, I have laid seven babies un-baptized in the 
earth. Believe me, sir, you never saw more hearty babies born, And yet, each 
would wither in my arms the very night of their birth. I have spoke nothin’, but 
my heart has clamored intimations. And now, this year, my Ruth, my only - I 
see her turning strange. A secret child she has become this year, and shrivels 
like a sucking mouth were pullin’ on her life too. And so I thought to send her 
to your Tituba - 

Parris: To Tituba! What may Tituba - ? 

Mrs. Putnam: Tituba knows how to speak to the dead, Mr. Parris. 



1 6 The Crucible 

Parris: Goody Ann, it is a formidable sin to conjure up the dead! 

Mrs. Putnam: 1 take it on my soul, but who else may surely tell us what person 
murdered my babies? 

Parris, horrified: Woman! 

MRs. Putnam: They were murdered, Mr. Parris! And mark this proof! Mark it! 
Last night my Ruth were ever so close to their little spirits; I know it, sir. For 
how else is she struck dumb now except some power of darkness would stop her 
mouth? It is a marvelous sign, Mr. Parris! 

Putnam: Don’t you understand it, sir? There is a murdering witch among us, 
bound to keep herself in the dark. Parris turns to Betty, a frantic terror rising in 
him. Let your enemies make of it what they will, you cannot blink it more. 

Parris, to Abigail: Then you were conjuring spirits last night. 

Abigail, whispering: Not I, sir - Tituba and Ruth. 

Parris turns now, with new fear, and goes to Betty, looks down at her, and then, 
gazing off: Oh, Abigail, what proper payment for my charity! Now I am 
undone. 

Putnam: You are not undone! Let you take hold here. Wait for no one to charge 
you - declare it yourself. You have dis-covered witchcraft - 

Parris: In my house? In my house, Thomas? They will topple me with this! 
They will make of it a - 

Enter Mercy Lewis, the Putnams’ servant, a fat, sly, merciless girl of eighteen. 
Mercy: Your pardons. I only thought to see how Betty i 


Putnam: Why aren’t you home? Who’s with Ruth? 



Act One 


17 


Mercy: Her grandma come. She’s improved a little, I think - she give a powerful 
sneeze before. 

Mrs. Putnam: Ah, there’s a sign of life! 

Mercy: I’d fear no more, Goody Putnam. It were a grand sneeze; another like it 
will shake her wits together. I’m sure. She goes to the bed to look. 

Parris: Will you leave me now, Thomas? I would pray a while alone. 

Abigail: Uncle, you’ve prayed since midnight. Why do you not go down and - 

PARRis: No - no. To Putnam: I have no answer for that crowd. I’ll wait till Mr. 
Hale arrives. To get Mrs. Putnam to leave: If you will, Goody Ann... 

PutnAM: Now look you, sir. Let you strike out against the Devil, and the village 
will bless you for it! Come down, speak to them - pray with them. They’re 
thirsting for your word. Mister! Surely you’ll pray with them. 

Parris, swayed: I’ll lead them in a psalm, but let you say nothing of witchcraft 
yet. I will not discuss it. The cause is yet u nk nown. I have had enough 
contention since I came; I want no more. 

Mrs. Putnam: Mercy, you go home to Ruth, d’y’hear? 

Mercy: Aye, mum. 

Mrs. Putnam goes out. 

Parris, to Abigail: If she starts for the window, cry for me at once. 

Abigail: I will, uncle. 

Orris, to Putnam: There is a terrible power in her arms to-day. He goes out with 
Putnam. 



1 8 The Crucible 

Abigail, with hushed trepidation: How is Ruth sick? 

Mercy! It’s weirdish, I know not - she seems to walk like a dead one since last 
night. 

Abigail, turns at once and goes to Betty, and now, with fear in her voice: Betty? 
Betty doesn ’t move. She shakes her. Now stop this! Betty! Sit up now! 

Betty doesn ’t stir . Mercy comes over. 

Mercy: Have you tried heatin’ her? I gave Ruth a good one and it waked her for 
a minute. Here, let me have her. 

Abigail, holding Mercy back: No, he’ll be cornin’ up. Listen, now; if they be 
questioning us, tell them we danced - 1 told him as much already, 

Mercy: Aye. And what more? 

Abigail: He knows Tituba conjured Ruth’s sisters to come out of the grave. 
Mercy: And what more? 

Abigail: He saw you naked. 

Mercy: clapping her hands together with a frightened laugh: Oh, Jesus! 

Enter Man > Warren, breathless. She is seventeen, a subservient, naive, lonely 
girl. 

Mary Warren: What’ll we do? The village is out! I just come from the farm; the 
whole country’s talkin’ witchcraft! They’ll be callin’ us witches, Abby! 

Mercy, pointing and looking at Maty Warren: She means to tell, I know it. 

Mary Warren: Abby, we’ve got to tell. Witchery’s a hangin’ error, a hangin’ 
like they done in Boston two year ago! We 



Act One 


19 


must tell the truth, Abby! You’ll only be whipped for dancin’, and the other things! 

Abigail: Oh, -we’ll be whipped! 

Mary Warren: I never done none of it, Abby. 1 only looked! 

Mercy, moving menacingly toward Mary: Oh, you’re a great one for lookin’, aren’t you, 
Mary Warren? What a grand peeping courage you have! 

Betty, on the bed, whimpers. Abigail turns to her at once. 

Abigail: Betty? She goes to Betty. Now, Betty, dear, wake up now. It’s Abigail. She sits 
Betty up and furiously shakes her. I’ll beat you, Betty! Betty whimpers. My, you seem 
improving. I talked to your papa and I told him everything. So there’s nothing to - 

Betty, darts op the bed, frightened of Abigail, and flattens her-self against the wall: I 
want my mama! 

ABIGAIL, with alarm, as she cautiously approaches Betty: What ails you, Betty? Your 
mama’s dead and buried. 

Betty: I’ll fly to Mama. Let me fly! She raises her arms as though to fly, and streaks for 
the window, gets one leg out. 

Abigail, pulling her away from the window: I told him every-thing,' he knows now, he 
knows everything we - 

Betty: You drank blood, Abby! You didn’t tell him that! 

Abigail: Betty, you never say that again! You will never— 

Betty: You did, you did! You drank a charm to kill John Proctor’s wife! You drank a 
charm to kill Goody Proctor! 

Abigail, smashes her across the face: Shut it! Now shut it! 

Barry, collapsing on the bed: Mama, Mama! She dissolves into sobs. 



20 


The Crucible 


Abigail: Now look you. All of you. We danced. And Tituba conjured Ruth Putnam’s 
dead sisters. And that is all. And mark this. Let either of you breathe a word, or the edge 
of a word, about the other things, and I will come to you in the black of some terrible 
night and I will bring a pointy reckoning that will shudder you. And you know I can do 
it; I saw Indians smash my dear parents’ heads on the pillow next to mine, and I have 
seen some reddish work done at night, and I can make you wish you had never seen the 
sun go down! She goes to Betty and roughly sits her up. Now, you - sit up and stop this' 

But Betty collapses in her hands and lies inert on the bed. 

Marry Warren, with hysterical fright, What’s got her? Abigail stares in fright at Betty. 
Abby, she’s going to die! It’s a sin to conjure, and we - 

Abigail, starting for Mann I say shut it, Mary Warren! 

Enter John Proctor. On seeing him, Mary Warren leaps in fright, 

Proctor was a farmer in his middle thirties, He need not have been a partisan of any 
faction in the town, but there is evidence to suggest that he had a sharp and biting way 
with hypocrites. He was the kind of man - powerful of body, even-tempered, and not 
easily led - who cannot refuse support to partisans with-out drawing their deepest 
resentment. In Proctor’s presence a fool felt his foolishness instantly - and a Proctor is 
always marked for calumny therefore. 

But as we shall see, the steady manner he displays does not spring from an untroubled 
soul. He is a sinner, a sinner not only against the moral fashion of the time, but against 
his own vision of decent conduct. These people had no ritual for the washing away of 
sins. It is another trait we inherited from them, and it has helped to discipline us as well 
as to breed hypocrisy among us. Proctor, respected and even feared in Salem, has 



Act One 


21 


come to regard himself as a kind of fraud. But no hint of this has yet appeared on the 
surface, and as he enters from the crowded parlor below it is a man in his prime we see, 
with a quiet confidence and an unexpressed, hidden force. Mary War-ren, his servant, 
can barely speak for embarrassment and fear. 

Mary Warren: Oh! I’m just going home, Mr. Proctor. 

Proctor: Be you foolish, Mary Warren? Be you deaf? I for-bid you leave the 
house, did I not? Why shall I pay you? I am looking for you more often than my 
cows! 

Mary Warren: I only come to see the great doings in the world. 

Proctor: I’ll show you a great doin' on your arse one of these days. Now get you 
home; my wife is waitin’ with your work! Trying to retain a shred of dignity, 
she goes slowly out. 

Mercy Lewis, both afraid of him and strangely titillated: I’d best be off. I have 
my Ruth to watch. Good morning, Mr. Proctor. 

Mercy sidles out. Since Proctor’s entrance, Abigail has stood as though on 
tiptoe, absorbing his presence, wide-eyed. He glances at her, then goes to Betty 
on the bed. 

Abigail: Gah! I’d almost forgot how strong you are, John Proctor! 

Proctor, looking at Abigail now, the faintest suggestion of a knowing smile on 
his face: What’s this mischief here? 

Abigail, with a ner\’ous laugh: Oh, she’s only gone silly some-how. 

Proctor: The road past my house is a pilgrimage to Salem all morning. The 
town’s mumbling witchcraft. 

Abigail: Oh, posh! Winningly she comes a little closer, with a 



22 


The Crucible 


confidential, wicked air. We were dancin’ in the woods last night, and my uncle leaped 
in on us. She took fright, is all. 

Proctor, his smile widening: Ah, you’re wicked yet, aren’t y’! A trill of 
expectant laughter escapes her, and she dares come closer, feverishly looking 
into his eyes. You’ll be clapped in the stocks before you’re twenty. 

He takes a step to go, and she springs into his path. 

Abigail: Give me a word, John. A soft word. Her concentrated desire destroys 
his smile. 

Proctor: No, no, Abby. That’s done with. 

Abigail, tauntingly: You come five mile to see a silly girl fly? I know you 
better. 

Proctor, setting her firmly out of his path: I come to see what mischief your 
uncle’s brewin’ now. With final emphasis: Put it out of mind, Abby. 

Abigail, grasping his hand before he can release her: John - I am waitin’ for 
you every night. 

Proctor: Abby, I never give you hope to wait for me. 

Abigail, now beginning to anger - she can ’t believe it: I have something better 
than hope, I thi nk ! 

Proctor: Abby, you’ll put it out of mind. I’ll not be cornin’ for you more. 
Abigail: You’re surely sportin’ with me. 

Proctor: Y ou know me better. 

Abigail: I know how you clutched my back behind your house and sweated 
like a stallion whenever I come near! Or did I dream that? It’s she put me out, 
you cannot pretend it were you. I saw your face when she put me out, and you 
loved me then and you do now! 



Act One 

Proctor: Abby, that’s a wild thing to say - 


23 


Abigail: A wild thing may say wild things. But not so wild, I think. I have seen you 
since she put me out; I have seen you nights. 

Proctor: I have hardly stepped off my farm this sevenmonth. 

Abigail: I have a sense for heat, John, and yours has drawn me to my window, 
and I have seen you looking up, burning in your loneliness. Do you tell me 
you’ve never looked up at my window? 

Proctor: I may have looked up. 

Abigail, now softening: And you must. You are no wintry man. I know you, 
John. I know you. She is weeping. I cannot sleep for dreamin‘; I cannot dream 
but I wake and walk about the house as though I’d find you cornin’ through 
some door. She clutches him desperately. 

Proctor, gently pressing her from him, with great sympathy but firmly: Child - 

Abigail, with a pash of anger: How do you call me child! 

Proctor: Abby, I may think of you softly from time to time. But I will cut off my 
hand before I’ll ever reach for you again. Wipe it out of mind. We never 
touched, Abby. 

Abigail: Aye, but we did. 

Proctor: Aye, but we did not. 

Abigail, with a bitter anger: Oh, I marvel how such a strong man may let such a 
sickly wife be - 


Proctor, angered - at himself as well: You’ll speak nothin’ of Elizabeth! 
Abigail: She is blackening my name in the village! She is tell- 



24 


The Cmcibie 


ing lies about me! .She is a cold, sniveling woman, and you bend to her! Let her turn 
you like a - 

Proctor, shaking her: Do you look for whippin’? 

A psalm is heard being sung below. 

Abigail, in tears : I look for John Proctor that took me from my sleep and put knowledge 
in my heart! I never knew what pretense Salem was, I never knew the lying lessons I 
was taught by all these Christian women and their covenanted men! And now you bid 
me tear the light out of my eyes? I will not, I cannot! You loved me, John Proctor, and 
whatever sin it is, you love me yet! He turns abruptly to go out. She rushes to him. John, 
pity me, pity me! 

The words “going up to Jesus’’ are heard in the psalm and Betty claps her ears 
suddenly and whines loudly. 

Abigail: Betty? She hurries to Betty, who is now sitting up and screaming. Proctor goes 
to Betty as Abigail is trying to pull her hands down, calling “Betty! ” 

Proctor, growing unnerved: What’s she doing? Girl, what ails you? Stop that wailing! 

The singing has stopped in the midst of this, and now Parris rushes in. 

Parris: What happened? What are you doing to her? Betty! He rushes to the bed, crying, 
“Betty, Betty!” Mrs. Putnam enters, feverish with curiosity, and with her Thomas 
Putnam and Mercy lewis. Parris, at the bed, keeps lightly slapping Betty ’s face, while 
she moans and tries to get up. 

Abigail: She heard you singin’ and suddenly she’s up and screamin’. 

Mrs. Putnam: The psalm! The psalm! She cannot bear to hear the Lord’s name! 



Act One 


25 


Parris: No. God forbid. Mercy, run to the doctor! Tell him what’s happened 
here! Mercy Lewis rushes out. 

Mrs. Putnam: Mark it for a sign, mark it! 

Rebecca Nurse, seventy-two, enters. She is white-haired, leaning upon her 
walking-stick. 

Putnam, pointing at the whimpering Betty: That is a notorious sign of witchcraft 
afoot, Goody Nurse, a prodigious sign! 

Mrs. Putnam: My mother told me that! When they cannot bear to hear the name 
of - 


Parris, trembling: Rebecca, Rebecca, go to her, we’re lost. She suddenly cannot 
bear to hear the Lord’s - 

Giles Corey, eighty-three, enters. He is knotted with muscle, canny, inquisitive, 
and still powerful. 

Rebecca: There is hard sickness here, Giles Corey, so please to keep the quiet. 

GILEs: I’ve not said a word. No one here can testify I’ve said a word. Is she 
going to fly again? I hear she flies. 

Putnam: Man, be quiet now! 

Everything is quiet. Rebecca walks across the room to the bed. Gentleness 
exudes from her. Betty is quietly whimpering, eyes shut, Rebecca simply stands 
over the child, who gradually quiets. 

And while they are so absorbed, we may put a word in for Rebecca. Rebecca 
was the wife of Francis Nurse, who, from all accounts, was one of those men for 
whom both sides of the argument had to have respect. He was called upon to 
arbitrate disputes as though he were an unofficial judge, and Rebecca also 
enjoyed the high opinion most people had for him. By the time of the delusion, 
they had three hundred acres, and their children were settled in separate 
homesteads within the same 



26 The Crucible 


estate. However, Francis had originally rented the land, and one theory has it that, as he 
gradually paid for it and raised hi: social status, there were those who resented his rise. 

Another suggestion to explain the systematic campaign against Rebecca, and 
inferentially against Francis, is the land war he fought with his neighbors, one of whom 
was a Putnam. This squabble grew to the proportions of a battle in the woods be-tween 
partisans of both sides, and it is said to have lasted for two days. As for Rebecca herself, 
the general opinion of her character was so high that to explain how anyone dared cry 
her out for a witch - and more, how adults could bring them-selves to lay hands on her - 
we must look to the fields and boundaries of that time. 

As we have seen, Thomas Putnam’s man for the Salem min-istry was Bayley. The 
Nurse clan had been in the faction that prevented Bayley’ s taking office. In addition, 
certain families allied to the Nurses by blood or friendship, and whose farms were 
contiguous with the Nurse farm or close to it, combined to break away from the Salem 
town authority and set up Tops-field, a new and independent entity whose existence was 
re-sented by old Salemites. 

That the guiding hand behind the outcry was Putnam’s is, indicated by the fact that, as 
soon as it began, this Topsfield-Nurse ’faction absented themselves from church in 
protest and disbelief. It was Edward and Jonathan Putnam who signed the first 
complaint against Rebecca; and Thomas Putnam’s little daughter was the one who fell 
into a fit at the hearing and pointed to Rebecca as her attacker. To top it all, Mrs. 
Putnam - who is now staring at the bewitched child on the bed - soon accused Rebecca’s 
spirit of “tempting her to iniquity,” a charge that had more truth in it than Mrs. Putnam 
could know, 

Mrs. Putnam, astonished: What have you done? 

Rebecca, in thought, now leaves the bedside and sits. 



Act One 


27 


Parris, wondrous and relieved: What do you make of it, Rebecca? 

Putnam, eagerly: Goody Nurse, will you go to my Ruth and see if you can wake 
her? 

Rebecca, sitting: I think she’ll wake in time. Pray calm your-selves. I have 
eleven children, and I am twenty-six times a grandma, and I have seen them all 
through their silly seasons, and when it come on them they will run the Devil 
bowlegged keeping up with their mischief. I think she’ll wake when she tires of 
it. A child’s spirit is like a child, you can never catch it by running after it; you 
must stand still, and, for love, it will soon itself come back, 

Proctor: Aye, that’s the truth of it, Rebecca. 

Mrs. Putnam: This is no silly season, Rebecca. My Ruth is bewildered, 
Rebecca; she cannot eat. 

Rebecca: Perhaps she is not hungered yet. To Parris: I hope you are not decided 
to go in search of loose spirits, Mr. Parris. I’ve heard.promise of that outside. 

Parris: A wide opinion’s running in the parish that the Devil may be among us, 
and I would satisfy them that they are wrong. 

Proctor: Then let you come out and call them wrong. Did you consult the 
wardens before you called this minister to look for devils? 

Parris: He is not coming to look for devils! 

Proctor: Then what’s he coming for? 

Putnam: There be children dyin’ in the village, Mister! 

Proctor: I seen none dyin’. This society will not be a bag to swing around your 
head, Mr. Putnam. To Parris: Did you call a meeting before you - ? 



28 


The Crucible 


PuTNAM: I am sick of meetings; cannot the man turn his head without he have a 
meeting? 

Proctor:, He may turn his head, but not to Hell! 

Rebecca: Pray, John, be calm. Pause. He defers to her. Mr. Parris, I thi nk you’d 
best send Reverend Hale back as soon as he come. This will set us all to arguin’ 
again in the society, and we thought to have peace this year; I think we ought 
rely on the doctor now, and good prayer. 

Mrs. Putnam: Rebecca, the doctor’s baffled! 

Rebecca: If so he is, then let us go to God for the cause of it. There is prodigious 
danger in the seeking of loose spirits. I fear it, I fear it. Let us rather blame 
ourselves and - 

PutNAM: How may we blame ourselves? I am one of nine sons; the Putnam 
seed have peopled this province. And yet I have but one child left of eight - and 
now she shrivels! 

Rebecca: I cannot fathom that. 

Mrs. Putnam, with a growing edge of sarcasm: But I must! You think it God’s 
work you should never lose a child, nor grand-child either, and I bury all but 
one? There are wheels within wheels in this village, and fires within fires! 

PuTNAM, to Parris: When Reverend Hale comes, you will pro-ceed to look for 
signs of witchcraft here. 

Proctor, to Putnam: You cannot command Mr. Parris. We vote by name in this 
society, not by acreage. 

Putnam: I never heard you worried so on this society, Mr. Proctor. I do not think 
I saw you at Sabbath meeting since snow flew. 

Proctor: I have trouble enough without I come five mile to hear him preach only 
hellfire and bloody damnation. Take it 



Act One 


29 


to heart, Mr. Parris. There are many others who stay away from church these days 
because you hardly ever mention God any more. 

Parris, now aroused: Why, that’s a drastic charge! 

Rebecca: It’s somewhat true; there are many that quail to bring their children - 

Parris: I do not preach for children, Rebecca. It is not the children who are 
unmindful of their obligations toward this ministry. 

Rebecca: Are there really those unmindful? 

Parris: I should say the better half of Salem village - 

PuTNAM: And more than that! 

Parris: Where is my wood? My contract provides I be supplied with all my 
firewood. I am waiting since November for a stick, and even in November I had 
to show my frostbitten hands like some London beggar! 

Giles: You are allowed six pound a year to buy your wood, Mr. Parris. 

Parris: I regard that six pound as part of my salary. I am paid little enough 
without I spend six pound on firewood. 

Proctor: Sixty, plus six for firewood - 

PARRis: The salary is sixty-six pound, Mr. Proctor! I am not some preaching 
farmer with a book under my arm; I am a graduate of Harvard College. 

Giles: Aye, and well instructed in arithmetic! 

Parris: Mr. Corey, you will look far for a man of my kind at sixty pound a year! 
I am not used to this poverty; I left a thrifty business in the Barbados to serve 
the Lord. I do not 



30 


The Crucible 


fathom it, why am I persecuted here? I cannot offer one propo-sition but there be a 
howling riot of argument. I have often wondered if the Devil be in it somewhere; I 
cannot understand you people otherwise. 

Proctor: Mr. Parris, you are the first minister ever did demand the deed to this 
house - 

Parris: Man! Don’t a minister deserve a house to live in? 

Proctor: To live in, yes. But to ask ownership is like you shall own the meeting 
house itself; the last meeting I were at you spoke so long on deeds and 
mortgages I thought it were an auction. 

Parris: I want a mark of confidence, is all! I am your third preacher in seven 
years. I do not wish to be put out like the cat whenever some majority feels the 
whim. You people seem not to comprehend that a minister is the Lord’s man in 
the parish; a minister is not to be so lightly crossed and contra-dieted - 

PutnAM: Aye! 

Parris: There is either obedience or the church will bum like Hell is burning! 

Proctor: Can you speak one minute without we land in Hell again? I am sick of 
Hell! 

Parris: It is not for you to say what is good for you to hear! 

Proctor: I may speak my heart, I thi nk ! 

Parris, in a fury: What, are we Quakers? We are not Quakers here yet, Mr. 
Proctor. And you may tell that to your followers! 

Proctor: My followers! 

PARRis - now he ’s out with it: There is a party in this church. 1 am not blind; 
there is a faction and a party. 



31 


Act One 

Proctor: Against you? 

PuTNAM: Against him and all authority! 

PRoctoR: Why, then I must find it and join it. 

There is shock among the others. 

Rebecca: He does not mean that. 

Putnam: He confessed it now! 

Proctor: I mean it solemnly, Rebecca; 1 like not the smell of this “authority.” 

Rebecca: No, you cannot break charity with your minister. You are another 
kind, John. Clasp his hand, make your peace. 

Proctor: I have a crop to sow and lumber to drag home. He goes angrily to the 
door and turns to Corey with a smile. What say you, Giles, let’s find the party. 
He says there’s a party. 

Giles: I’ve changed my opinion of this man, John. Mr. Parris, I beg your 
pardon. I never thought you had so much iron in you. 

Parris, surprised: Why, thank you, Giles! 

Giles: It suggests to the mind what the trouble be among us all these years. To 
all: Think on it. Wherefore is everybody suing everybody else? Think on it 
now, it’s a deep thing, and dark as a pit. 1 have been six time in court this year - 

Proctor , familiarly , with warmth, although he knows he is approaching the edge 
of Giles’ tolerance with this: Is it the Devil’s fault that a man cannot say you 
good morning without you clap him for defamation? You’re old, Giles, and 
you’re not hearin’ so well as you did. 

Giles - he cannot be crossed: John Proctor, I have only last month collected 
four pound damages for you publicly sayin’ I burned the roof off your house, 
and I - 



Act One Proctor: Against you? PutNAM: Against him and all authority! PRoctoR: Why, then I must find it and join it. 
There is shock among the others. Rebecca: He does not mean that. Putnam: He confessed it now! 3 1 


Proctor: I mean it solemnly, Rebecca; 1 like not the smell of this “authority.” 

Rebecca: No, you cannot break charity with your minister. You are another 
kind, John. Clasp his hand, make your peace. 

Proctor: 1 have a crop to sow and lumber to drag home. He goes angrily to the 
door and turns to Corey with a smile. What say you, Giles, let’s find the party. 
He says there’s a party. 

Giles: I’ve changed my opinion of this man, John. Mr. Parris, I beg your 
pardon. I never thought you had so much iron in you. 

Parris, Surprised: Why, thank you, Giles! 

Giles: It suggests to the mind what the trouble be among us all these years. To 
all: Think on it. Wherefore is everybody suing everybody else? Think on it 
now, it’s a deep thing, and dark as a pit. I have been six time in court this year - 

Proctor, familiarly, with warmth, although he knows he is approaching the edge 
of Giles’ tolerance with this: Is it the Devil’s fault that a man cannot say you 
good morning without you clap him for defamation? You’re old, Giles, and 
you’re not hearin’ so well as you did. 

GILEs - he cannot be crossed: John Proctor, I have only last month collected 
four pound damages for you publicly sayin’ I burned the roof off your house, 
and I - 



32 


The Crucible 


Proctor, laughing: I never said no such thing, but I’ve paid you for it, so I hope I can call you 
deaf without charge. Now come along, Giles, and help me drag my lumber home. 

PuTNAM: A moment, Mr. Proctor. What lumber is that you’re draggin’, if I may ask 
you? 

Proctor: My lumber. From out my forest by the riverside. 

Putnam: Why, we are surely gone wild this year. What anarchy is this? That tract is in 
my bounds, it’s in my bounds, Mr. Proctor. 

Proctor: In your bounds! indicating Rebecca: I bought that tract from Goody Nurse’s 
husband five months ago. 

PuTNAM: He had no right to sell it. It stands clear in my grand-father’s will that all the 
land between the river and - 

Proctor: Y our grandfather had a habit of willing land that never belonged to him, if I 
may say it plain. 

Giles: That’s God’s truth; he nearly willed away my north pasture but he knew I’d break 
his fingers before he’d set his name to it. Let’s get your lumber home, John. I feel a 
sudden will to work coming on. 

Putnam: You load one oak of mine and you’ll fight to drag it home! 

GiLEs: Aye, and we’ll win too, Putnam - this fool and I. Come on! He turns to Proctor 
and starts out. 

Putnam: I’ll have my men on you, Corey! I’ll clap a writ on you! 

Enter Reverend John Hale of Beverly. 

Mr. Hale is nearing forty, a tight-skinned, eager-eyed intel-lectual. This is a beloved 
errand for him; on being called here 



Act One 


33 


to ascertain witchcraft he felt the pride of the specialist whose unique 
knowledge has at last been publicly called for. Like almost all men of learning, 
he spent a good deal of his time pondering the invisible world, especially since 
he had himself encountered a witch in his parish not long before. That woman, 
however, turned into a mere pest under his searching scrutiny, and the child she 
had allegedly been afflicting recovered her normal behavior after Hale had 
given her his kindness and a few days of rest in his own house. However, that 
experience never raised a doubt in his mind as to the reality of the under-world 
or the existence of Lucifer’s many-faced lieutenants. And his belief is not to his 
discredit. Better minds than Hale’s were - and still are - convinced that there is a 
society of spirits beyond our ken. One cannot help noting that one of his lines 
has never yet raised a laugh in any audience that has seen this play; it is his 
assurance that “,We cannot look to superstition in this. The Devil is precise.” 
Evidently we are not quite certain even now whether diabolism is holy and not 
to be scoffed at. And it is no accident that we should be so bemused. 

Like Reverend Hale and the others on this stage, we conceive the Devil as a 
necessary part of a respectable view of cosmology. Ours is a divided empire in 
which certain ideas and emotions and actions are of God, and their opposites are 
of Lucifer. It is as impossible for most men to conceive of a morality without 
sin as of an earth without “sky.” Since 1692 a great but super- ficial change has 
wiped out God’s beard and the Devil’s horns, but the world is still gripped 
between two diametrically opposed absolutes. The concept of unity, in which 
positive and negative are attributes of the same force, in which good and evil 
are relative, ever-changing, and always joined to the same phenom-enon - such 
a concept is still reserved to the physical sciences and to the few who have 
grasped the history of ideas. When it is recalled that until the Christian era the 
underworld was never regarded as a hostile area, that all gods were useful and 
es-sentially friendly to man despite occasional lapses; when we 



34 


The Crucible 


see the steady and methodical inculcation into humanity of the idea of man’s 
worthlessness - until redeemed - the necessity of the Devil may become evident as a 
weapon, a weapon designed and used time and time again in every age to whip men into 
a surrender to a particular church or church-state. 

Our difficulty in believing the - for want of a better word - political inspiration of the 
Devil is due in great part to the fact that he is called up and damned not only by our 
social antagonists but by our own side, whatever it may be. The Catholic Church, 
through its Inquisition, is famous for culti-vating Lucifer as the arch-fiend, but the 
Church’s enemies relied no less upon the Old Boy to keep the human mind enthralled. 
Luther was himself accused of alliance with Hell, and he in turn accused his enemies. 
To complicate matters further, he believed that he had had contact with the Devil and 
had argued theology with him. I am not surprised at this, for at my own university a 
professor of history - a Lutheran, by the way - used to as-semble his graduate students, 
draw the shades, and commune in the classroom with Erasmus. He was never, to my 
knowledge, officially scoffed at for this, the reason being that the university officials, 
like most of us, are the children of a history which still sucks at the Devil’s teats. At this 
writing, only England has held back before the temptations of contemporary diabolism. 
In the countries of the Communist ideology, all resistance of any import is linked to the 
totally malign capitalist succubi, and in America any man who is not reactionary in his 
views is open to the charge of alliance with the Red hell. Political opposition, thereby, is 
given an inhumane overlay which then justifies the abrogation of all normally applied 
customs of civilized inter-course. A political policy is equated with moral right, and 
opposition to it with diabolical malevolence. Once such an equation is effectively made, 
society becomes a congerie of plots and counterplots, and the main role of government 
changes from that of the arbiter to that of the scourge of God. 

The results of this process are no different now from what 



Act One 


35 


they ever were, except sometimes in the degree of cruelty inflicted, and not always even 
in that department. Normally the actions and deeds of a man were all that society felt 
com-fortable in judging, The secret intent of an action was left to the ministers, priests, 
and rabbis to deal with. When diabolism rises, however, actions are the least important 
manifests of the true nature of a man. The Devil, as Reverend Hale said, is a wily one, 
and, until an hour before he fell, even God thought him beautiful in Heaven. 

The analogy, however, seems to falter when one considers that, while there were no 
witches then, there are Communists and capitalists now, and in each camp there is 
certain proof that spies of each side are at work undermining the other. But this is a 
snobbish objection and not at all warranted by the facts. I have no doubt that people 
were communing with, and even worshiping, the Devil in Salem, and if the whole truth 
could be known in this case, as it is in others, we should dis-cover a regular and 
conventionalized' propitiation of the dark spirit, One certain evidence of this is the 
confession of Tituba, the slave of Reverend Parris, and another is the behavior of the, 
children who were known to have indulged in sorceries with her. 

There are accounts of similar klatches in Europe, where the daughters of the towns 
would assemble at night and, sometimes with fetishes, sometimes with a selected young 
man, give them-selves to love, with some bastardly results. The Church, shaip-eyed as it 
must be when gods long dead are brought to life, condemned these orgies as witchcraft 
and interpreted them, rightly, as a resurgence of the Dionysiac forces it had crushed long 
before. Sex, sin, and the. Devil were early linked, and so they continued to be in Salem, 
and are today. From all accounts there are no more puritanical mores in the world than 
those enforced by the Communists in Russia, where women’s fashions, for instance, are 
as prudent and all-covering as any American Baptist would desire. The divorce laws lay 
a tremendous re-sponsibility on the father for the care of his children. Even the 



36 The Crucible 


laxity of divorce regulations in the early years of the revolution was undoubtedly a revulsion 
from the nineteenth-century Vic-torian immobility of marriage and the consequent hypocrisy 
that developed from it. If for no other reasons, a state so power-fill, so jealous of the uniformity 
of its citizens, cannot long toler-ate the atomization of the family. And yet, in American eyes at 
least, there remains the conviction that the Russian attitude toward women is lascivious. It is the 
Devil working again, just as he is working within the Slav who is shocked at the very idea of a 
woman’s disrobing herself in a burlesque show. Our opposites are always robed in sexual sin, 
and it is from this unconscious conviction that demonology gains both its attractive sensuality 
and its capacity to infuriate and frighten. 

Coming into Salem now, Reverend Hale conceives of himself much as a young doctor on his 
first call. His painfully acquired armory of symptoms, catchwords, and diagnostic procedures 
are now to be put to use at last. The road from Beverly is unusually busy this morning, and he 
has passed a hundred rumors that make him smile at the ignorance of the yeomanry in this most 
precise science. He feels himself allied with the best minds of Europe - kings, philosophers, 
scientists, and ecclesiasts of all churches. His goal is light, goodness and its preservation, and he 
knows the exaltation of the blessed whose intelligence, sharpened by minute examinations of 
enormous tracts, is finally called upon to face what may be a bloody fight with the Fiend 
himself. 

He appears loaded down with half a dozen heavy books. Hale: Pray you, someone take 
these! 

. Parris, delighted: Mr. Hale! Oh! it’s good to see you again! 

Taking some books: My, they’re heavy! 

Hale, setting down his books: They must be; they are weighted with authority. 



Act One Parris, a little scared: Well, you do come prepared! 37 

Hale: We shall need hard study if it comes to tracking down the Old Boy. Noticing 
Rebecca: You cannot be Rebecca Nurse? 

Rebecca: I am, sir. Do you know me? 

Hale: It’s strange how I knew you, but I suppose you look as such a good soul 
should. We have all heard of your great charities in Beverly. 

Parris: Do you know this gentleman? Mr. Thomas Putnam. And his good wife 
Ann. 

Hale: Putnam! I had not expected such distinguished company, 

sir. 


Putnam, pleased: It does not seem to help us today, Mr. Hale. We look to you to 
come to our house and save our child. 

Hale: Your child ails too? 

Mrs. Putnam: Her soul, her soul seems flown away. She sleeps and yet she 
walks... 

PutNAM: She cannot eat. 

Hale: Cannot eat! Thinks on it, Then, to Proctor and Giles Corey: Do you men 
have addicted children? 

Parris: No, no, these are farmers. John Proctor - 
Giles Corey: He don’t believe in witches. 

Proctor, to Hale: I never spoke on witches one way or the other. Will you come, 
Giles? 

Giles: No - no, John, I thi nk not. I have some few queer questions of my own to 
ask this fellow. 


Proctor: I’ve heard you to be a sensible man, Mr. Hale. I hope you’ll leave some 
of it in Salem. 



38 The Crucible 

Proctor goes. Hale stands embarrassed for an instant. 

Parris, quickly: Will you look at my daughter, sir? Leads Hale to the bed. She has tried 
to leap out the window; we discovered her this morning on the highroad, waving her 
arms as though she’d fly. 

Hale, narrowing his eyes. Tries to fly. 

Putnam: She cannot bear to hear the Lord’s name, Mr. Hale; that’s a sure sign of 
witchcraft afloat. 

Hale, holding up his hands: No, no. Now let me instruct you. We cannot look to 
superstition in this. The Devil is precise; the marks of his presence are definite as stone, 
and I must tell you all that I shall not proceed unless you are prepared to believe me if I 
should find no bruise of hell upon her. 

Parris: It is agreed, sir - it is agreed - we will abide by your judgment. 

Hale: Good then. He goes to the bed, looks down at Betty:. To Parris: Now, sir, what 
were your first warning of this strange-ness? 

Parris: Why, sir - 1 discovered her - indicating Abigail - and my niece and ten or twelve 
of the other girls, dancing in the forest last night. 

Hale, surprised: You permit dancing? 

Parris: No, no, it were secret - 

MRs. Putnam, unable to wait: Mr. Parris’s slave has knowledge of conjurin’, sir. 

Parris, to Mrs. Putnam: We cannot be sure of that, Goody Ann - 

Mrs. Putnam, frightened, very ? softly: I know it, sir. I sent my child - she should learn 
from Tituba who murdered her sisters. 



Act One 

Parris, a little scared: Well, you do come prepared! 


37 


Hale: We shall need hard study if it comes to tracking down the Old Boy. Noticing Rebecca: You 
cannot be Rebecca Nurse? 

Rebecca: I am, sir. Do you know me? 

Hale: It’s strange how I knew you, but 1 suppose you look as such a good soul should. 
We have all heard of your great charities in Beverly. 

Parris: Do you know this gentleman? Mr. Thomas Putnam. And his good wife Ann. 
Hale: Putnam! I had not expected such distinguished company, 


Putnam, pleased, It does not seem to help us today, Mr. Hale. We look to you to come 
to our house and save our child. 

Hale: Your child ails too? 

MRs. Putnam: Her soul, her soul seems flown away. She sleeps and yet she walks... 
Putnam: She cannot eat. 

Hale: Cannot eat! Thinks on it. Then, to Proctor and Giles Corey: Do you men have 
afflicted children? 

Parris: No, no, these are farmers. John Proctor - 
Giles Corey: He don’t believe in witches. 

Proctor to Hale: I never spoke on witches one way or the other. Will you come, Giles? 

Giles: No - no, John, I think not. I have some few queer questions of my own to ask this 
fellow. 

Proctor: I’ve heard you to be a sensible man, Mr. Hale. I hope you’ll leave some of it in 
Salem. 



38 


The Crucible 


Proctor goes. Hale stands embarrassed for an instant. 

Parris, quickly: Will you look at my daughter, sir? Leads Hale to the bed. She has tried 
to leap out the window; we discovered her this morning on the highroad, waving her 
arms as though she’d fly. 

Hale, narrowing his eyes: Tries to fly. 

Putnam: She cannot bear to hear the' Lord’s name, Mr. Hale; that’s a sure sign of 
witchcraft afloat. 

Hale, holding up his hands: No, no. Now let me instruct you. We cannot look to 
superstition in this. The Devil is precise; the marks of his presence are definite as stone, 
and I must tell you all that I shall not proceed unless you are prepared to believe me if I 
should find no bruise of hell upon her. 

Parris: It is agreed, sir - it is agreed - we will abide by your judgment. 

Hale: Good then. He goes to the bed, looks down at Betty. To Parris: Now, sir, what 
were your first warning of this strange-ness? 

Parris: Why, sir - 1 discovered her - indicating Abigail - and my niece and ten or twelve 
of the other girls, dancing in the forest last night. 

Hale, surprised: You permit dancing? 

Parris: No, no, it were secret - 

Mrs. Putnam, unable to wait: Mr. Parris’s slave has knowledge of conjurin’, sir. 

Parris, to Mrs. Putnam: We cannot be sure of that, Goody Ann - 

Mrs. Putnam, frightened, very: softly: 1 know it, sir. I sent my child - she should learn 
from Tituba who murdered her sisters. 



Act One 


39 


Rebecca horrified: Goody Ann! You sent a child to conjure up the dead? 

Mrs. Putnam: Let God blame me, not you, not you, Rebecca! I’ll not have you 
judging me any more! To Hale: Is it a natural work to lose seven children 
before they live a day? 

Parris: Sssh! 

Rebecca, with great pain, turns her face away. There is a pause. 

Hale: Seven dead in childbirth. 

Mrs. Putnam, softly: Aye. Her voice breaks; she looks up at him. Silence. Hale 
is impressed. Parris looks to him. He goes to his books, opens one, turns pages, 
then reads. All wait, avidly. 

Parris, hushed: What book is that? 

Mrs. Putnam: What's there, sir? 

Hale, with a tasty love of intellectual pursuit: Here is all the invisible world, 
caught, defined, and calculated. In these books the Devil stands stripped of all 
his brute disguises. Here are all your familiar spirits - your incubi and succubi; 
your witches that go by land, by air, and by sea; your wizards of the night and 
of the day. Have no fear now - we shall find him out if he has come among us, 
and I mean to crush him utterly if he has shown his face! He starts for the bed. 

Rebecca: Will it hurt the child, sir? 

Hale: I cannot tell. If she is truly in the Devil’s grip we may have to rip and tear 
to get her free. 

REBECCA: I think I’ll go, then. I am too old for this. She rises. 

Parris, striving for conviction: Why, Rebecca, we may open up the boil of all 
our troubles today! 

Rebecca: Let us hope for that. I go to God for you, sir. 



40 


The Crucible 


Parris, with trepidation - and resentment: I hope you do not mean we go to 
Satan here! Slight pause. 

Rebecca: I wish 1 knew. She goes out; they feel resentful of her note of moral 
superiority. 

PuTNAM, abruptly: Come, Mr. Hale, let’s get on. Sit you here. 

Giles: Mr. Hale, I have always wanted to ask a learned man - what signifies the 
readin’ of strange books? 

Hale: What books? 

Giles: I cannot tell; she hides them, Hale; Who does 
this? 

Giles: Martha, my wife. I have waked at night many a time and found her in a 
comer, readin’ of a book. Now what do you make of that? 

Hale: Why, that’s not necessarily - 

Giles: It discomfits me! Last night - mark this - I tried and tried and could not 
say my prayers. And then she close her book and walks out of the house, and 
suddenly - mark this - 1 could pray again! 

Old Giles must be spoken for, if only because his fate was to be so 
remarkable and so different from that of all the others. He was in his early 
eighties at this time, and was the most comical hero in the history. No man has 
ever been blamed for so much. If a cow was missed, the first thought was to 
look for her around Corey’s house; a fire blazing up at night brought sus-picion 
of arson to his door. He didn’t give a hoot for public opinion, and only in his 
last years - after he had married Martha - did he bother much with the church. 
That she stopped his prayer is very probable, but he forgot to say that he’d only 
recently learned any prayers and it didn’t take much to make him stumble over 
them. He was a crank and a nuisance, but 



Act One 


41 


withal a deeply innocent and brave man. In court once he was asked if it were 
true that he had been frightened by the strange behavior of a hog and had then 
said he knew it to be the Devil in an animal’s shape. “What frighted you?” he 
was asked. He forgot everything but the word “frighted,” and instantly replied, 
“I do not know that I ever spoke that word in my life,” 

Hale: Ah! The stoppage of prayer - that is strange. I’ll speak further on that with 
you. 

Giles: I’m not sayin’ she’s touched the Devil, now, but I’d admire to know what 
books she reads and why she hides them. ' She’ll not answer me , y ’ see. 

Hale: Aye, we’ll discuss it. To all: Now mark me, if the Devil is in her you will 
witness some frightful wonders in this room, so please to keep your wits about 
you. Mr. Putnam, stand close in case she flies. Now, Betty, dear, will you sit 
up? Putnam comes in closer, ready-handed. Hale sits Betty up, but she hangs 
limp in his hands. Hmmm. He observes her carefully. The others watch 
breathlessly. Can you hear me? I am John Hale, minister of Beverly. I have 
come to help you, dear. Do you remember my two little girls in Beverly? She 
does not stir in his hands. 

Parris, in fright: How can it be the Devil? Why would he choose my house to 
strike? We have all manner of licentious . people in the village! 

Hale: What victory would the Devil have to win a soul already bad? It is the 
best the Devil wants, and who is better than the minister? 

Giles: That’s deep, Mr, Parris, deep, deep! 

Paaris, with resolution now: Betty! Answer Mr. Hale! Betty! Hale: Does 
someone afflict you, child? It need not be a woman, mind you, or a man. 
Perhaps some bird invisible to others comes to you - perhaps a pig, a mouse, or 
any beast at all. Is there 



42 


The Crucible 


some figure bids you fly? The child remains limp in his hands. In silence he lays her back on the 
pillow Now, holding out his hands toward her, he intones: In nomine Domini Sabaoth sui filiique 
ite ad infernos. She does not stir. He turns to Abigail, his eyes narrowing. Abigail, what sort of 
dancing were you doing with her in the forest? 

Abigail: Why - common dancing is all. 

Parris: I think I ought to say that 1 - 1 saw a kettle in the grass where they were dancing. 
Abigail: That were only soup. 

Hale: What sort of soup were in this kettle, Abigail? 

Abigail: Why, it were beans - and lentils, I think, and - 

Hale: Mr. Parris, you did not notice, did you, any living thing in the kettle? A mouse, 
perhaps, a spider, a frog - ? 

Parris, fearfully: I - do believe there were some movement - in the soup. 

Abigail: That jumped in, we never put it in! 

Hale, quickly: What jumped in? 

Abigail: Why, a very little frog jumped - 
Parris: A frog, Abby! 

Hale, grasping Abigail: Abigail, it may be your cousin is dying. Did you call the Devil 
last night? 

Abigail: I never called him! Tituba, Tituba... 

Parris, blanched: She called the Devil? 

Hale: I should like to speak with Tituba, 

Parris: Goody Ann, will you bring her up? Mrs, Putnam exits. 

Hale: How did she call him? 



Act One 

Abigail: I know not - she spoke Barbados. 


43 


Hale: Did you feel any strangeness when she called him? A sudden cold wind, perhaps? 
A trembling below the ground? 

Abigail: I didn’t see no Devil! Shaking Betty: Betty, wake up. Betty! Betty! 

Hale: You cannot evade me, Abigail. Did your cousin drink any of the brew in 
that kettle? 

Abigail: She never drank it! 

Hale: Did you drink it? 

Abigail: No, sir! 

Hale ". Did Tituba ask you to drink it? 

Abigail: She tried, but I refused. 

Hale: Why are you concealing? Have you sold yourself to Lucifer? 

Abigail: I never sold myself! I’m a good girl! I’m a proper girl! Mrs. Putnam 
enters with Tituba, and instantly Abigail points at Tituba. 

Abigail: She made me do it! She made Betty do it! 

TiTUBA, shocked and angry: Abby! 

Abigail: She makes me drink blood! 

Parris: Blood!! 

Mrs. Putnam: My baby’s blood? 

TiTUBA: No, no, chicken blood. I give she chicken blood! 

Hale: Woman, have you enlisted these children for the Devil? 

TiTUBA: No, no, sir, I don’t truck with no Devil! 

Hale: Why can she not wake? Are you silencing this child? 



44 The Crucible 
TiTUBA: I love me Betty! 

Hale; You have sent your spirit out upon this child, have you not? Are you gathering 
souls for the Devil? 

Abigail: She sends her spirit on me in church; she makes me laugh at prayer! 

Parris: She have often laughed at prayer! 

Abigail: She comes to me every night to go and drink blood! 

TiTUBA: You beg me to conjure! She beg me make charm - 

Abigail: Don’t lie! To Hale: She comes to me while I sleep; she’s always making me 
dream corruptions! 

TiTUBA: Why you say that, Abby? 

Abigail: Sometimes I wake and find myself standing in the open doorway and not a 

stitch on my body! I always hear her laughing in my sleep. I hear her singing her 

Barbados songs and tempting me with - 

TiTUBA: Mister Reverend, I never - 

Hale, resolved now: Tituba, I want you to wake this child. 

TiTUBA: I have no power on this child, sir. 

Hale: You most certainly do, and you will free her from it now! When did you compact 
with the Devil? 

Tituba: I don’t compact with no Devil! 

Parris: You will confess yourself or I will take you out and whip you to your death, 
Tituba! 

PuTNAM: This woman must be hanged! She must be taken and hanged! 


Tituba, terrified, falls to her knees: No, no, don’t hang Tituba! 1 tell him I don’t desire 
to work for him, sir. 



Parris: The Devil? 


Act One 


45 


Hale: Then you saw him! Tituba weeps. Now Tituba, I know that when we bind 
ourselves to Hell it is very hard to break with it. We are going to help you tear yourself 
free - 

Tituba, frightened by the coming process: Mister Reverend, I do believe 
somebody else be witchin’ these children. 

Hale: Who? 

Tituba: 1 don’t know, sir, but the Devil got him numerous witches. 

Hale: Does he! It is a clue. Tituba, look into my eyes. Come, look into me. She 
raises her eyes to his fearfully. You would be a good Christian woman, would 
you not, Tituba? 

TiTUBA: Aye, sir, a good Christian woman. 

Hale: And you love these little children? 

Tituba: Oh, yes, sir, 1 don’t desire to hurt little children. 

Hale: And you love God, Tituba? 

TiTUBA: I love God with all my bein’. 

Hale: Now, in God’s holy name - 

Tituba: Bless Him. Bless Him. She is rocking on her kness, sobbing in terror. 

Hale: And to His glory - 

Tituba: Eternal glory. Bless Him - bless God... 

Hale: Open yourself, Tituba - open yourself and let, God’s holy light shine on 
you. 

TiTUBA: Oh, bless the Lord. 

Hale: When the Devil comes to you does he ever come - with another person? 
She stares up into his face, Perhaps another person in the village? Someone you 
know. 


Parris: Who came with him? 



46 The Crucible 

Putnam: Sarah Good? Did you ever see Sarah Good with him? Or Osbum? 

Parris: Was it man or woman came with him? 

TiTUBA: Man or woman. Was - was woman. 

Parris: What woman? A woman, you said. What woman? 

TiTUBA: It was black dark, and I - 

PaRRis: You could see him, why could you not see her? 

Tituba: Well, they was always talking; they was always runnin’ round and 
carryin’ on - 

Parris: You mean out of Salem? Salem witches? 

TiTUBA: I believe so, yes, sir. 

Now Hale takes her hand. She is surprised. 

Hale: Tituba. You must have no fear to tell us who they are, do you understand? 
We will protect you. The Devil can never overcome a minister. You know that, 
do you not? 

Tituba, kisses Hale ’s hand: Aye, sir, oh, I do. 

Hale: You have confessed yourself to witchcraft, and that speaks a wish to come 
to Heaven’s side. And we will bless you, Tituba. 

Tituba, deeply relieved: Oh, God bless you, Mr. Hale! 

Hale, with rising exaltation: You are God’s instrument put in our hands to 
discover the Devil’s agents among us. You are selected, Tituba, you are chosen 
to help us cleanse our village. So speak utterly, Tituba, turn your back on him 
and face God - face God, Tituba, and God will protect you. 

TITUBA, joining with him: Oh, God, protect Tituba! 

Hale, kindly: Who came to you with the Devil? Two? Three? Four? How many? 



Act One 


47 


Tituba pants, and begins rocking back and forth again, staring ahead. 

Tituba: There was four. There was four. 

Parris, pressing in on her: Who? Who? Their names, their names! 

Tituba, suddenly bursting out: Oh, how many times he bid me .kill you, Mr. 
Parris! 

Parris: Kill me! 

TiTUBA, in a fury: He say Mr. Parris must be kill! Mr. Parris no goodly man, 
Mr. Parris mean man and no gentle man, and he bid me rise out of my bed and 
cut your throat! They gasp. But I tell him “No! I don’t hate that man. I don’t 
want kill that man.” But he say, “You work for me, Tituba, and I make you free! 
I give you pretty dress to wear, and put you way high up in the air, and you 
gone fly back to Barbados!” And 1 say, “You lie, Devil, you lie!” And then he 
come one stormy night to me, and he say, “Look! I have white people belong to 
me.” And I look - and there was Goody Good. 

Parris: Sarah Good! 

TiTUBA, rocking and weeping: Aye, sir, and Goody Osbum. 

Mrs. Putnam: I knew it! Goody Osbum were midwife to me three times. I 
begged you, Thomas, did I not? I begged him not to call Osburn because I 
feared her. My babies always shriveled in her hands! 

Hale: Take courage, you must give us all their names. How can you bear to see 
this child suffering? Look at her, Tituba. He is indicating Betty on the bed. Look 
at her God-given innocence; her soul is so tender; we must protect her, Tituba; 
the Devil is out and preying on her like a beast upon the mesh of the pure lamb. 
God will bless you for your help. 



48 The Crucible 

Abigail rises, staring as though inspired, and cries out. 


' Abigail: I want to open myself! They turn to her, startled. She is enraptured, as though 
in a pearly light. I want the light of God, I want the sweet love of Jesus! I danced for 
the Devil; I saw him; I wrote in his book; I go back to Jesus; I kiss His hand. I saw 
Sarah Good with the Devil! I saw Goody Osbum with the Devil! I saw Bridget Bishop 
with the Devil! 

As she is speaking, Betty is rising from the bed, a fever in her eyes, and picks up the 
chant. 

Betty, staring too: I saw George Jacobs with the Devil! I saw Goody Howe with the 
Devil! 

Parris: She speaks! He rushes to embrace Betty. She speaks! Hale: Glory to God! It is 
broken, they are free! 

Betty, calling out hysterically and with great relief: I saw Martha Bellows with the 
Devil! 

Abigail: I saw Goody Sibber with the Devil! It is rising to o great glee. 

PutNAM: The marshal, I’ll call the marshal! 

Parris is shouting a prayer of thanksgiving. 

BETTY : I saw Alice Barrow with the Devil ! 

The curtain begins to fall. 

Hale, as Putnam goes out: Let the marshal bring irons! 

Abigail: I saw Goody Hawkins with the Devil! 

BeTTY : I saw Goody Bibber with the Devil! 

Abigail: I saw Goody Booth with the Devil! 

On their ecstatic cries 

THE CURTAIN FALLS 



ACT TWO 


The common room of Proctor ’s house, eight days later. 

At the right is a door opening on the fields outside. A fireplace is at the left, and behind 
it a stairway leading upstairs. It is the low, dark, and rather long living room of the 
time. As the curtain rises, the room is empty. From above, Elizabeth is heard softly 
singing to the children. Presently the door opens and John Proctor enters, carrying his 
gun. He glances about the room as he comes toward the fireplace, then halts for an 
instant as he hears her singing. He continues on to the fireplace, leans the gun against 
the wall as he swings a pot out of the fire and smells it. Then he lifts out the ladle and 
tastes. He is not quite pleased. He reaches to a cupboard, takes a pinch of salt, and 
drops it into the pot. As he is tasting again, her footsteps are heard on the stair. He 
swings the pot into the fireplace and goes to a basin and washes his hands and face, 
Elizabeth enters. 

Elizabeth: What keeps you so late? It’s almost dark. 

Proctor: I were planting far out to the forest edge. Elizabeth: Oh, you’re done 
then. 

Proctor: Aye, the farm is seeded. The boys asleep? 

49 



50 


The Crucible 


Elizabeth: They will be soon. And she goes to the fireplace, proceeds to ladle up stew in 
a dish. 

Proctor: Pray now for a fair summer. 

Elizabeth: Aye. 

Proctor: Are you well today? 

Elizabeth: I am. She brings the plate to the table, and, indi-cating the food:. It is 
a rabbit. 

Proctor, going to the table: Oh, is it! In Jonathan’s trap? 

Elizabeth: No, she walked into the house this afternoon; I found her sittin’ in the 
comer like she come to visit. 

Proctor: Oh, that’s a good sign walkin’ in. 

Elizabeth: Pray God. It hurt my heart to strip her, poor rabbit. She sits and 
watches him taste it. 

Proctor: It’s well seasoned. 

Elizabeth, blushing with pleasure: I took great care. She’s tender? 

Proctor: Aye. He eats. She watches him. I think we’ll see green fields soon. It’s 
warm as blood beneath the clods. 

Elizabeth: That’s well. 

Proctor eats, then looks up. 

Proctor: If the crop is good I’ll buy George Jacob’s heifer. How would that 
please you? 

Elizabeth: Aye, it would. 

Proctor, with a grin: I mean to please you, Elizabeth. 

Elizabeth - it is hard to say: I know it, John. 

He gets up, goes to her, kisses her. She receives it. With a certain 
disappointment, he returns to the table. 



Act Two Proctor, as gently as he can: Cider? 


51 


Elizabeth, with a sense of reprimanding herself for having forgot: Aye! She gets up and 
goes and pours a glass for him. He now arches his back. 

Proctor: This farm’s a continent when you go foot by foot droppin’ seeds in it. 

Elizabeth, coming with the cider: It must be. 

Proctor, drinks a long draught, then, putting the glass down: Y ou ought to bring some 
flowers in the house. 

Elizabeth: Oh! I forgot! I will tomorrow. 

Proctor: It’s winter in here yet. On Sunday let you come with me, and we’ll walk the 
farm together; 1 never see such a load of flowers on the earth. With good feeling he goes 
and looks up at the sk y through the open doorway. Lilacs have a purple smell. Lilac is 
the smell of nightfall, I think. Massachusetts is a beauty in the spring! 

Elizabeth: Aye, it is. 

There is a pause. She is watching him from the table as he stands there absorbing the 
night. It is as though she would speak but cannot. Instead, now, she takes up his plate 
and glass and fork and goes with them to the basin. Her back is turned to him. He turns 
to her and watches her. A sense of their separation rises. 

Proctor: I think you’re sad again. Are you? 

Elizabeth - she doesn ’t want friction, and yet she must: You come so late I thought 
you’d gone to Salem this afternoon. 

Proctor: Why? I have no business in Salem. 

Elizabeth: You did speak of going, earlier this week. Proctor - he knows what she 
means: I thought better of it since. 



52 


The Crucible 


Elizabeth: Mary Warren’s there today, 

Proctor: Why’d you let her? You heard me forbid her go to Salem any morel 
Elizabeth: I couldn’t stop her. 

Proctor, holding back a full condemnation of her: It is a fault, it is a fault, 
Elizabeth - you’re the mistress here, not Mary Warren. 

Elizabeth: She frightened all my strength away. 

Proctor: How may that mouse frighten you, Elizabeth? You - 

Elizabeth: It is a mouse no more. I forbid her go, and she raises up her chin like 
the daughter of a prince and lays to me, “I must go to Salem, Goody Proctor; I 
am an official of the court!” 

Proctor: Court! What court? 

Elizabeth: Aye, it is a proper court they have now. They’ve sent four judges out 
of Boston, she says, weighty magistrates of the General Court, and at the head 
sits the Deputy Governor of the Province. 

PRoCTOR, astonished: Why, she’s mad. 

Elizabeth: I would to God she were. There be fourteen people in the jail now, 
she says. Proctor simply looks at her, unable to grasp it. And they’ll be tried, 
and the court have power to hang them too, she says. 

Proctor, scoffing, but without conviction: Ah, they’d never hang - 

Elizabeth: The Deputy Governor promise hangin’ if they’ll not confess, John. 
The town’s gone wild, I think. She speak of Abigail, and I thought she were a 
saint, to hear her. Abigail brings the other girls into the court, and where she 
walks the 



Act Two 


53 


crowd will part like the sea for Israel. And folks are brought before them, and if 
they scream and howl and fall to the floor - the person’s clapped in the jail for 
bewitchin’ them. 

Proctor, wide-eyed: Oh, it is a black mischief. 

Elizabeth: I think you must go to Salem, John. He turns to her. I think so. You 
must tell them it is a fraud. 

Proctor, thinking beyond this: Aye, it is, it is surely. 

Elizabeth: Let you go to Ezekiel Cheever - he knows you well. And tell him 
what she said to you last week in her uncle’s house. She said it had naught to do 
with witchcraft, did she not? 

Proctor, in thought: Aye, she did, she did. Now, a pause. 

Elizabeth, quietly, fearing to anger him by prodding: God for-bid you keep that 
from the court, John. I think they must be told. 

Proctor, quietly, struggling with his thought: Aye, they must, they must. It is a 
wonder they do believe her. 

Elizabeth: I would go to Salem now, John - let you go tonight. 

Proctor: I’ll think on it. 

Elizabeth, with her courage now: You cannot keep it, John, 

Proctor, angering: I know I cannot keep it. I say I will think on it! 

Elizabeth, hurt, and very coldly: Good, then, let you think on it. She stands and 
starts to walk out of the room. 

Proctor: I am only wondering how I may prove what she told me, Elizabeth. If 
the girl’s a saint now, I think it is not easy to prove she’s fraud, and the town 
gone so silly. She told it to me in a room alone - 1 have no proof for it. 


Elizabeth: Y ou were alone with her? 



54 The Crucible 

Proctor, stubbornly: For a moment alone, aye. Elizabeth: Why, then, it 
is not as you told me. 

Proctor, his anger rising: For a moment, I say. The others come in soon after. 

Elizabeth, quietly - she has suddenly lost all faith in him: Do as you wish, then. 
She starts to turn. 

Proctor: Woman. She turns to him. I’ll not have your sus-picion any more. 
Elizabeth, a little loftily: / have no - 
Proctor: I’ll not have it! 

Elizabeth: Then let you not earn it. 

Proctor, with a violent undertone: You doubt me yet? 

Elizabeth, with a smile, to keep her dignity: John, if it were not Abigail that you 
must go to hurt, would you falter now? I think not. 

Proctor: Now look you - 
Elizabeth: I see what I see, John. 

Proctor, with solemn warning: You will not judge me more, Elizabeth. I have 
good reason to thi nk before I charge fraud on Abigail, and I will think on it. Let 
you look to your own im-provement before you go to judge your husband any 
more. I have forgot Abigail, and - 

Elizabeth: And I. 

Proctor: Spare me! You forget nothin’ and forgive nothin’. Learn charity, 
woman. I have gone tiptoe in this house all seven month since she is gone. I 
have not moved from there to there without I think to please you, and still an 
everlasting funeral marches round your heart. I cannot speak but I am 



Act Two 


55 


doubted, every moment judged for lies, as though I come into a court when I come into 
this house! 

Elizabeth: John, you are not open with me. You saw her with a crowd, you said. Now 
you - 

Proctor: I’ll plead my honesty no more, Elizabeth. 

Elizabeth - now she would justify herself: John, I am only - 

Proctor: No more! I should have roared you down when first you told me your 
suspicion. But I wilted, and, like a Christian, I confessed. Confessed! Some dream I had 
must have mistaken you for God that day. But you’re not, you’re not, and let you 
remember it! Let you look sometimes for the goodness in me, and judge me not. 

Elizabeth: I do not, judge you. The magistrate sits in your heart that judges you. I never 
thought you but a good man, John - with a smile - only somewhat bewildered. 

Proctor, laughing bitterly: Oh, Elizabeth, your justice would freeze beer! He turns 
suddenly toward a sound outside. He starts for the door as Mary Warren enters. As 
soon as he sees her, he goes directly to her and grabs her by her cloak, furious. How do 
you go to Salem when I forbid it? Do you mock me? Shaking her. I’ll whip you if you 
dare leave this house again! 

Strangely, she doesn ’t resist him, but hangs limply by his grip. 

Mary Warren: I am sick, I am sick, Mr. Proctor. Pray, pray, hurt me not. Her 
strangeness throws him op, and her evident pallor and weakness. He frees her. My 
insides are all shuddery; I am in the proceedings all day, sir. 

Proctor, with draining anger - his curiosity is draining it:. And what of these 
proceedings here? When will you proceed to keep this house, as you are paid nine 
pound a year to do - and my wife not wholly well? 



56 The Crucible 


As though to compensate, Maty Warren goes to Elizabeth with a small rag 
doll. 

Mary Warren: I made a gift for you today, Goody Proctor. 1 had to sit long 
hours in a chair, and passed the time with sewing. 

Elizabeth, perplexed, looking at the doll: Why, thank you, it’s a fair poppet. 

Mary Warren, with a trembling, decayed voice: We must all love each other 
now, Goody Proctor. 

Elizabeth, amazed at her strangeness: Aye, indeed we must. 

Mary Warren, glancing at the room: I’ll get up early in the morning and clean 
the house. I must sleep now. She turns and starts off. 

Proctor: Mary. She halts. Is it true? There be fourteen women arrested? 

Mary Warren: No, sir. There be thirty-nine now - She sud-denly breaks op and 
sobs and sits down, exhausted. 

Elizabeth: Why, she’s weepin'! What ails you, child? 

Mary WARREN: Goody Osbum - will hang! 

There is a shocked pause, while she sobs. 

Proctor: Hang! He calls into her face. Hang, y’say? 

Mary Warren, through her weeping: Aye. 

Proctor: The Deputy Governor will permit it? 

Mary Warren: He sentenced her. He must. To ameliorate it: But not Sarah 
Good. For Sarah Good confessed, y’see. 

Proctor: Confessed' To what? 

Mary Warren: That she - in horror at the memory - she some-times made a 
compact with Lucifer, and wrote her name in his 



Act Two 


57 


black book - with her blood - and bound herself to torment Christians till God’s thrown 
down - and we all must worship Hell forevermore, 

Pause. 

Proctor: But - surely you know what a jabberer she is. Did you tell them that? 

MARY WARREN: Mr. Proctor, in open court she near to choked us all to 
death. 

Proctor: How, choked you? 

Mary Warren: She sent her spirit out. 

Elizabeth: Oh, Mary, Mary, surely you - 

Mary Warren, with an indignant edge: She tried to kill me many times, Goody 
Proctor! 

Elizabeth: Why, I never heard you mention that before. 

Mary Warren: I never knew it before. I never knew anything before. When she 
come into the court I say to myself, I must not accuse this woman, for she sleep 
in ditches, and so very old and poor. But then - then she sit there, denying and 
denying, and I feel a misty coldness climbin’ up my back, and the skin on my 
skull begin to creep, and I feel a clamp around my neck and I cannot breathe air; 
and then - entranced - I hear a voice, a screamin’ voice, and it were my voice - 
and all at once I re-membered everything she done to me! 

Proctor: Why? What did she do to you? 

Mary Warren, like one awakened to a marvelous secret in-sight: So many time, 
Mr. Proctor, she come to this very door, beggin’ bread and a cup of cider - and 
mark this: whenever I turned her away empty, she mumbled. 

Elizabeth: Mumbled! She may mumble if she’s hungry. 



58 The Crucible 


Mary Warren: But what does she mumble? You must re-member, Goody 
Proctor. Last month - a Monday, I think - she walked away, and I thought my 
guts would burst for two days after. Do you remember it? 

Elizabeth: Why - 1 do, 1 think, but - 

Mary Warren: And so I told that to Judge Hathome, and he asks her so. “Sarah 
Good,” says he, “what curse do you mumble that this girl must fall sick after 
turning you away?” And then she replies - mimicking an old crone - "Why, your 
excellence, no curse at all. I only say my commandments; I hope I may say my 
commandments,” says she! 

Elizabeth: And that’s an upright answer. 

Mary Warren: Aye, but then Judge Hathome say, “Recite for us your 
commandments!” - leaning avidly toward them - and of all the ten she could not 
say a single one. She never knew no commandments, and they had her in a flat 
lie! 

Proctor: And so condemned her? 

Mary Warren, now a little strained, seeing his stubborn doubt: Why, they must 
when she condemned herself. 

Proctor: But the proof, the proof! 

Mary Warren, with greater impatience with him: I told you the proof. It’s hard 
proof, hard as rock, the judges said. 

Proctor, pauses an instant, then: You will not go to court again, Mary Warren. 

Mary Warren: I must tell you, sir, I will be gone every day now. I am amazed 
you do not see what weighty work we do. 

Proctor: What work you do! It’s strange work for a Christian girl to hang old 
women! 


Mary Warren: But, Mr. Proctor, they will not hang them it 



Act Two 


59 


they confess. Sarah Good will only sit in jail some time - recall-ing - and here’s 
a wonder for you; think on this. Goody Good is pregnant! 

Elizabeth: Pregnant! Are they mad? The woman’s near to sixty! 

Mary Warren: They had Doctor Griggs examine her, and she’s full to the brim. 
And smokin’ a pipe all these years, and no husband either! But she’s safe, thank 
God, for they’ll not hurt the innocent child. But be that not a marvel? You must 
see it, sir, it’s God’s work we do. So I’ll be gone every day for some time. I’m - 
I am an official of the court, they say, and I - She has been edging toward 
onstage. 

Proctor: I’ll official you! He strides to the mantel, takes down the whip hanging 
there. 

Mary Warren, terrified, but coming erect, striving for her au-thority: I’ll not 
stand whipping any more! 

Elizabeth, hurriedly, as Proctor approaches: Mary, promise now you’ll stay at 
home - 

MARY Warren, backing from him, but keeping her erect pos-ture, striving, 
striving for her way: The Devil’s loose in Salem, Mr. Proctor; we must discover 
where he’s hiding! 

Proctor! I’ll whip the Devil out of you! With whip raised he reaches out for her, 
and she streaks away and yells. 

Mary Warren, pointing at Elizabeth: I saved her life today! 

Silence. His whip comes down. 

Elizabeth, softly: I am accused? 

Mary Warren, quaking: Somewhat mentioned. But I said 1 never see no sign 
you ever sent your spirit out to hurt no one, and seeing I do live so closely with 
you, they dismissed it. 


Elizabeth: Who accused me? 



60 


The Crucible 


Mary Warren: I am bound by law, I cannot tell it. To Proctor: I only hope you’ll not be so 
sarcastical no more. Four judges and the King’s deputy sat to dinner with us but an hour ago. I - 
I would have you speak civilly to me, from this out. 

Proctor, in horror, muttering in disgust at her: Go to bed. 

Mary Warren, with a stamp of her foot: I’ll not be ordered to bed no more, Mr. Proctor! I am 
eighteen and a woman, how-ever single! 

Proctor: Do you wish to sit up? Then sit up. 

Mary Warren: I wish to go to bed! 

Proctor, in anger: Good night, then! 

Mary Warren: Good night. Dissatisfied, uncertain of herself, she goes out. Wide-eyed, both, 
Proctor and Elizabeth stand staring. 

Elizabeth, quietly: Oh, the noose, the noose is up! 

Proctor: There’ll be no noose. 

Elizabeth: She wants me dead. I knew all week it would come to this! 

Proctor, Without conviction: They dismissed it. You heard her say - 
Elizabeth: And what of tomorrow? She will cry me out until they take me! 

Proctor: Sit you down. 

Elizabeth: She wants me dead, John, you know it! 

Proctor: I say sit down! She sits, trembling. Pie speaks quietly, trying to keep his wits, Now we 
must be wise, Elizabeth. 

Elizabeth, with sarcasm, and a sense of being lost: Oh, indeed, indeed! 



Act Two61 

Proctor: Fear nothing. I’ll find Ezekiel Cheever. I’ll tell him she said it were all sport. 

Elizabeth: John, with so many in the jail, more than Cheever’s help is needed 
now, I think. Would you favor me with this? Go to Abigail. 

Proctor, his soul hardening as he senses... : What have I to say to Abigail? 

Elizabeth, delicately: John - grant me this. You have a faulty understanding of 
young girls. There is a promise made in any bed - 

Proctor, striving against his anger: What promise! 

Elizabeth: Spoke or silent, a promise is surely made. And she may dote on it 
now - 1 am sure she does - and thinks to kill me, then to take my place. 

Proctor ’s anger is rising: he cannot speak. 

Elizabeth: It is her dearest hope, John, I know it. There be a thousand names; 
why does she call mine? There be a certain danger in calling such a name - 1 am 
no Goody Good that sleeps in ditches, nor Osbum, drunk and half-witted. She’d 
dare not call out such a farmer’s wife but there be monstrous profit in it. She 
thinks to take my place, John, 

Proctor: She cannot think it! He knows it is true. 

Elizabeth, “reasonably”: John, have you ever shown her some-what of 
contempt? She cannot pass you in the church but you will blush - 

Proctor: I may blush for my sin. 

Elizabeth: I think she sees another meaning in that blush. 


Proctor: And what see you? What see you, Elizabeth? 



62 


The Crucible 


Elizabeth, “conceding”: I think you be somewhat ashamed, far I am there, and she so 
close. 

Proctor: When will you know me, woman? Were I stone 1 would have cracked 
for shame this seven month! 

Elizabeth: Then go and tell her she’s a whore. Whatever promise she may sense 
- break it, John, break it. 

Proctor, between his teeth: Good, then. I’ll go. He starts for his rifle. 

Elizabeth, trembling, fearfully: Oh, how unwillingly! 

Proctor, turning on her, ripe in hand: I will curse her hotter than the oldest 
cinder in hell. But pray, begrudge me not my anger! 

Elizabeth: Your anger! I only ask you - 

Proctor: Woman, am I so base? Do you truly thi nk me base? 

Elizabeth: I never called you base. 

Proctor: Then how do you charge me with such a promise? The promise that a 
stallion gives a mare 1 gave that girl! 

Elizabeth: Then why do you anger with me when 1 bid you break it? 

Proctor: Because it speaks deceit, and 1 am honest! But I’ll plead no more! I see 
now your spirit twists around the single error of my life, and I will never tear it 
free! 

Elizabeth, crying out: You’ll tear it free - when you come to know that I will be 
your only wife, or no wife at all! She has an arrow in you yet, John Proctor, and 
you know it well! 

Quite suddenly, as though from the air, a figure appears in the doorway. They 
start slightly. It is Mr. Hale. He is different now - drawn a little, and there is a 
quality of deference, even of guilt, about his manner now. 



Hale: Good evening. 


Act Two 


63 


Proctor, still in his shock: Why, Mr. Hale! Good evening to you, sir. Come in, come in. 
Hale, to Elizabeth: I hope 1 do not startle you. 

Elizabeth: No, no, it’s only that I heard no horse - 
Hale: You are Goodwife Proctor. 

Proctor: Aye; Elizabeth. 

Hale, nods, then: I hope you’re not off to bed yet. 

Proctor, setting down his gun: No, no. Hale comes further into the room. And 
Proctor, to explain his nervousness: We are not used to visitors after dark, but 
you’re welcome here. Will you sit you down, sir? 

Hale: I will. He sits. Let you sit, Goodwife Proctor. 

She does, never letting him out of her sight. There is a pause as Hale looks 
about the room. 

Proctor, to break the silence: Will you drink cider, Mr. Hale? 

Hale: No, it rebels my stomach; I have some further traveling yet tonight. Sit 
you down, sir. Proctor sits. I will not keep you long, but I have some business 
with you. 

Proctor: Business of the court? 

Hale: No - no, I come of my own, without the court’s author-ity. Hear me. He 
wets his lips. I know not if you are aware, but your wife’s name is - mentioned 
in the court. 

Proctor: We know it, sir. Our Mary Warren told us. We are entirely amazed. 

Hale: I am a stranger here, as you know. And in my ignorance I find it hard to 
draw a clear opinion of them that come accused before the court. And so this 
afternoon, and now tonight, I go 



64 The Crucible 

from house to house - 1 come now from Rebecca Nurse’s house and - 
Elizabeth, shocked: Rebecca’s charged! 

Hex, a: God forbid such a one be charged. She is, however - mentioned 
somewhat. 

Elizabeth, with an attempt at a laugh: You will never believe, I hope, that 
Rebecca trafficked with the Devil. 

Hale: Woman, it is possible. 

Proctor: taken aback: Surely you cannot think so. 

Hale: This is a strange time, Mister. No man may longer doubt the powers of 
the dark are gathered in monstrous attack upon this village. There is too much 
evidence now to deny it. Y ou will agree, sir? 

Proctor, evading: I - have no knowledge in that line. But it’s hard to think so 
pious a woman be secretly a Devil’s bitch after seventy year of such good 
prayer. 

Hale: Aye. But the Devil is a wily one, you cannot deny it. However, she is far 
from accused, and I know she will not be. Pause. I thought, sir, to put some 
questions as to the Christian character of this house, if you’ll permit me. 

Proctor, coldly, resentful: Why, we - have no fear of ques-tions, sir. 

Hale: Good, then. He makes himself more comfortable. In the book of record 
that Mr. Parris keeps, I note that you are rarely in the church on Sabbath Day. 

Proctor: No, sir, you are mistaken. 

Hale: Twenty-six time in seventeen month, sir. I must call that rare. Will you 
tell me why you are so absent? 


Proctor: Mr. Hale, I never knew I must account to that man 



65 


Act Two 

for I come to church or stay at home. My wife were sick this winter. 

Hale: So I am told. But you. Mister, why could you not come alone? 

Proctor: I surely did come when I could, and when I could not I prayed in this house. 

Hale: Mr. Proctor, your house is not a church; your theology must tell you that. 

Proctor: It does, sir, it does; and it tells me that a minister may pray to God without he 
have golden candlesticks upon the altar. 

Hale: What golden candlesticks? 

Proctor: Since we built the church there were pewter candle-sticks upon the altar; 
Francis Nurse made them, y’know, and a sweeter hand never touched the metal. But 
Parris came, and for twenty week he preach nothin’ but golden candlesticks until he had 
them. I labor the earth from dawn of day to blink of night, and I tell you true, when I 
look to heaven and see my money glaring at his elbows - it hurt my prayer, sir, it hurt 
my prayer. I think, sometimes, the man dreams cathedrals, not clapboard meetin’ 
houses. 

Hale, thinks, then: And yet. Mister, a Christian on Sabbath Day must be in church. 
Pause. Tell me - you have three chil-dren? 

Proctor: Aye. Boys. 

Hale: How comes it that only two are baptized? 

Proctor, starts 'o speak, then stops, then, as though unable to restrain this: 1 like it not 
that Mr. Parris should lay his hand upon my baby. I see no light of God in that man. I’ll 
not conceal it. 



66 


The Crucible 


Hale: I must say it, Mr. Proctor; that is not for you to decide. The man’s ordained, 
therefore the light of God is in him. 

Proctor, flushed with resentment but trying to smile: What’s your suspicion, Mr. 
Hale? 

Hale; No, no, I have no - 

Proctor: I nailed the roof upon the church, I hung the door - 
Hale: Oh, did you! That’s a good sign, then. 

Proctor: It may be I have been too quick to bring the man to book, but you 
cannot think we ever desired the destruction of religion. I think that’s in your 
mind, is it not? 

Hale, not altogether giving way: I - have - there is a softness in your record, sir, 
a softness. 

Elizabeth: I think, maybe, we have been too hard with Mr. Parris. I think so. But 
sure we never loved the Devil here. 

Hale, nods, deliberating this. Then, with the voice of one ad-ministering a secret 
test: Do you know your Commandments, Elizabeth? 

Elizabeth, without hesitation, even eagerly: I surely do. There be no mark of 
blame upon my life, Mr. Hale. I am a covenanted Christian woman. 

Hale: And you, Mister? 

Proctor, a tripe unsteadily: I - am sure I do, sir. 

Hale, glances at her open face, then at John, then: Let you re -peat them, if you 
will. 

Proctor: The Commandments. 

Hale: Aye. 

Proctor, looking off, beginning to sweat: Thou shalt not kill. 



Hale: Aye. 


Act Two 


67 


Proctor, counting on his angers: Thou shalt not steal. Thou shalt not covet thy neighbor’s goods, 
nor make unto thee any graven image. Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord in vain; thou 
shalt have no other gods before me. With some hesitation: Thou shalt remember the Sabbath Day 
and keep it holy. Pause. Then: Thou shalt honor thy father and mother. Thou shalt not bear false 
witness. He is stuck. He counts back on his fingers, knowing one is missing. Thou shalt not make 
unto thee any graven image. 

Hale: You have said that twice, sir. Proctor, lost: Aye. He is failing 
for it. Elizabeth, delicately: Adultery, John. 

Proctor, as though a secret arrow had pained his heart: Aye. Trying to grin it away - to 
Hale: You see, sir, between the two of us we do know them all. Hale only looks at 
Proctor, deep in his attempt to define this man, Proctor grows more uneasy. I think it be 
a small fault. 

Hale: Theology, sir, is a fortress; no crack in a fortress may be accounted small. He 
rises; he seems worried now. He paces a little, in deep thought. 

Proctor: There be no love for Satan in this house, Mister. 

Hale: 1 pray it, I pray it dearly. He looks to both of them, an attempt at a smile on his 
face, but his misgivings are clear. Well, then - I’ll bid you good night. 

Elizabeth, unable to restrain herself: Mr. Hale. He turns. I do think you are suspecting 
me somewhat? Are you not? 

Hale, obviously disturbed - and evasive: Goody Proctor, I do not judge you. My duty is 
to add what I may to the godly 



68 


The Crucible 


wisdom of the court. I pray you both good health and good fortune. To John: Good 
night, sir. He starts out. 

Elizabeth, with a note of desperation: I think you must tell him, John. 

Hale: What’s that? 

Elizabeth, restraining a call: Will you tell him? 

Slight pause. Hale looks questioningly at John. 

Proctor, with difficulty: I - I have no witness and cannot prove it, except my 
word be taken. But I know the children’s sickness had naught to do with 
witchcraft. 

Hale, stopped, struck: Naught to do - ? 

Proctor: Mr. Parris discovered them sportin' in the woods. They were startled 
and took sick. 

Pause. 

Hale: Who told you this? 

Proctor, hesitates, then: Abigail Williams. 

Hale: Abigail! 

Proctor: Aye. 

Hale, his eyes wide: Abigail Williams told you it had naught to do with 
witchcraft! 

Proctor: She told me the day you came, sir. 

Hale, suspiciously: Why - why did you keep this? 

Proctor: I never knew until tonight that the world is gone daft with this 
nonsense. 

Hale: Nonsense! Mister, I have myself examined Tituba, Sarah Good, and 
numerous others that have confessed to dealing with the Devil. They have 
confessed it. 



Act Two 


69 


Proctor: And why not, if they must hang for denyin’ it? There are them that will swear 
to anything before they’ll hang; have you never thought of that? 

Hale: I have. 1 - I have indeed. It is his own suspicion, but he resists it. He 
glances at Elizabeth, then at John. And you - would you testify to this in court? 

Proctor: I - had not reckoned with goin’ into court. But if I must I will. 

Hale: Do you falter here? 

Proctor: 1 falter nothing, but I may wonder if my story will be credited in such a 
court. I do wonder on it, when such a steady-minded minister as you will 
suspicion such a woman that never lied, and cannot, and the world knows she 
cannot! I may falter somewhat, Mister; I am no fool. 

Hale, quietly - it has impressed him: Proctor, let you open with me now, for I 
have a rumor that troubles me.' It’s said you hold no belief that there may even 
be witches in the world. Is that true, sir? 

Proctor - he knows this is critical and is striving against his disgust with Hale 
and with himself for even answering: I know not what I have said, I may have 
said it. I have wondered if there be witches in the world - although I cannot 
believe they come among us now. 

Hale: Then you do not believe - 

Proctor: I have no knowledge of it; the Bible speaks of witches, and I will not 
deny them. 

Hale: And you, woman? 

Elizabeth: I - 1 cannot believe it. 


Hale, shocked: You cannot! 



70 


The Crucible 


Proctor: Elizabeth, you bewilder him! 

Elizabeth, to Hale: I cannot think the Devil may own a woman’s soul, Mr. Hale, 
when she keeps an upright way, as I have. I am a good woman, I know it; and if 
you believe I may do only good work in the world, and yet be secretly bound to 
Satan, then I must tell you, sir, I do not believe it. 

Hale: But, woman, you do believe there are witches in - 

Elizabeth: If you think that I am one, then I say there are none. 

Hale: You surely do not fly against the Gospel, the Gospel - 

Proctor: She believe in the Gospel, every word! 

Elizabeth: Question Abigail William s about the Gospel, not myself! 

Hale stares at her. 

Proctor: She do not mean to doubt the Gospel, sir, you can-not think it. This be 
a Christian house, sir, a Christian house. 

Hale: God keep you both; let the third child be quickly baptized, and go you 
without fail each Sunday in to Sabbath prayer; and keep a solemn, quiet way 
among you. I think - 
Giles Corey appears in doorway. 

Giles: John! 

PRoctoR: Giles! What’s the matter? 

Giles: They take my wife. 

Francis Nurse enters. 

Giles: And his Rebecca! 

Proctor, to Francis: Rebecca’s in the jaill 

Francis: Aye, Cheever come and take her in his wagon. We’ve 



Act Two 


71 


only now come from the jail, and they’ll not even let us in to see them. 

Elizabeth: They’ve surely gone wild now, Mr. Hale! 

Francis, going to Hale: Reverend Hale! Can you not speak to the Deputy 
Governor? I’m sure he mistakes these people - 

Hale: Pray calm yourself, Mr. Nurse. 

Francis: My wife is the very brick and mortar of the church, Mr.. Hale - 
indicating Giles - and Martha Corey, there cannot be a woman closer yet to God 
than Martha. 

Hale: How is Rebecca charged, Mr. Nurse? 

Francis, with a mocking, half-hearted laugh: For murder, she’s charged! 
Mockingly quoting the warrant: “For the marvelous and supernatural murder of 
Goody Putnam’s babies.” What am I to do, Mr. Hale? 

Hale, turns from Francis, deeply troubled, then: Believe me, Mr. Nurse, if 
Rebecca Nurse be tainted, then nothing’s left to stop the whole green world 
from burning. Let you rest upon the justice of the court; the court will send her 
home, I know it. 

Francis: You cannot mean she will be tried in court! 

Hale, pleading: Nurse, though our hearts break, we cannot flinch; these are new 
times, sir. There is a misty plot afoot so subtle we should be criminal to cling to 
old respects and ancient friendships. I have seen too many frightful proofs in 
court - the Devil is alive in Salem, and we dare not quail to follow wherever the 
accusing finger points! 

Proctor, angered: How may such a woman murder children? 

Hale, in great pain: Man, remember, until an hour before the Devil fell, God 
thought him beautiful in Heaven. 

GiLES: I never said my wife were a witch, Mr. Hale; I only said she were 
reading books! 



72 


The Crucible 


Hale: Mr. Corey, exactly what complaint were made on your wife? 

Giles: That bloody mongrel Walcott charge her. Y’see, he buy a pig of my wife 
four or five year ago, and the pig died soon after. So he come dancin’ in for his 
money back. So my Martha, she says to him, “Walcott, if you haven’t the wit to 
feed a pig properly, you’ll not live to own many,” she says. Now he goes to 
court and claims that from that day to this he cannot keep a pig alive for more 
than four weeks because my Martha bewitch them with her books! 

Enter Ezekiel Cheever. A shocked silence. 

CHEEvER: Good evening to you, Proctor. 

Proctor: Why, Mr. Cheever. Good evening. 

Cheever: Good evening, all. Good evening, Mr. Hale. 

Proctor: I hope you come not on business of the court. 

Cheever: I do, Proctor, aye. I am clerk of the court, now, y’know. 

Enter Marshal Herrick, a man in hi" early thirties, who is some-what 
shamefaced at the moment. 

Giles: It’s a pity, Ezekiel, that an honest tailor might have gone to Heaven must 
bum in Hell. You’ll bum for this, do you know it? 

Cheever: You know yourself I must do as I’m told. You surely know that, Giles. 
And I’d as lief you’d not be sending me to Hell. I like not the sound of it, I tell 
you; I like not the sound of it. He fears Proctor, but starts to reach inside his 
coat. Now believe me, Proctor, how heavy be the law, all its tonnage I do carry 
on my back tonight. He takes out a warrant. I have a warrant for your wife. 


Proctor, to Hale: You said she were not charged! 



Act Two 


73 


Hale: I know nothin’ of it. To Cheever: When were she charged? 

Cheever: I am given sixteen warrant tonight, sir, and she is one. 

Proctor: Who charged her? 

Cheever: Why, Abigail Williams charge her. 

Proctor: On what proof, what proof? 

Cheever, looking about the room: Mr. Proctor, 1 have little time. The court bid 
me search your house, but I like not to search a house. So will you hand me any 
poppets that your wife may keep here? 

Proctor: Poppets? 

Elizabeth: I never kept no poppets, not since I were a girl. 

Cheever, embarrassed, glancing toward the mantel where sits Maty Warren ’s 
poppet: I spy a poppet, Goody Proctor. 

Elizabeth: Oh! Going for it: Why, this is Mary’s. 

Cheever, shyly: Would you please to give it to me? 

Elizabeth, handing it to him, asks HaLe: Has the court discov-ered a text in 
poppets now? 

Cheever, carefully holding the poppet: Do you keep any others in this house? 

PRocvoa: No, nor this one either till tonight. What signifies a poppet? 

Cheever: Why, a poppet - he gingerly turns the poppet over - a poppet may 
signify - Now, woman, will you please to come with me? 

Proctor: She will not! To Elizabeth: Fetch Mary here. 

Cheever, ineptly reaching toward Elizabeth: No, no, I am for-bid to leave her 
from my sight. 



74 


The Crucible 


Proctor, pushing his arm away: You’ll leave her out of sight and out of mind. 
Mister. Fetch Mary, Elizabeth. Elizabeth goes upstairs. 

Hale: What signifies a poppet, Mr. Cheever? 

Cheever, turning the poppet over in his hands: Why, they say it may signify that 
she - He has lifted the poppet’s skirt, and his eyes widen in astonished fear. 
Why, this, this - 

Proctor, reaching for the poppet: What’s there? 

Cheever: Why - He draws out a long needle from the poppet - it is a needle! 
Herrick, Herrick, it is a needle! 

Herrick comes toward Aim. 

Proctor, angrily, bewildered: And what signifies a needle! 

Cheever, his hands shaking: Why, this go hard with her, Proc-tor, this - I had 
my doubts, Proctor, I had my doubts, but here’s' calamity. To Hale, showing the 
needle: You see it, sir, it is a needle! 

Hale: Why? What meanin’ has it? 

Cheever, wide-eyed, trembling: The girl, the Williams girl, Abi-gail Williams, 
sir. She sat to dinner in Reverend Parris’s house tonight, and without word nor 
warnin’ she falls to the floor. Like a struck beast, he says, and screamed a 
scream that a bull would weep to hear. And he goes to save her, and, stuck two 
inches in the flesh of her belly, he draw a needle out. And demandin’ of her how 
she come to be so stabbed, she - to Proctor now - testify it -were your wife’s 
familiar spirit pushed it in. 

Proctor: Why, she done it herself! To Hale: I hope you’re not takin’ this for 
proof, Mister! 


Hale, struck by the proof, is silent. 



Act Two 


75 


Cheever: ’Tis hard proof! To Hale: 1 find here a poppet Goody Proctor keeps. I have found it, sir. 
And in the belly of the poppet a needle’s stuck. I tell you true, Proctor, I never warranted to see 
such proof of Hell, and I bid you obstruct me not, for 1 - 

Enter Elizabeth with Maiy Warren. Proctor, seeing Maiy War-ren, draws her by the arm to 
Hale. 

Proctor: Here now! Mary, how did this poppet come into my house? 

Mary W arren, frightened for herself, her voice very’ small: What poppet’s that, sir? 

Proctor, impatiently, pointing at the doll in Cheever ’s hand: This poppet, this poppet. 

Mary Warren, evasively, looking at it: Why, I - 1 think it is mine. 

Proctor: It is your poppet, is it not? 

Mary Warren, not understanding the direction of this: It - is, sir. 

Proctor: And how did it come into this house? 

Mary Warren, glancing about at the avid faces: Why - 1 made it in the court, sir, and - give it to 
Goody Proctor tonight. 

Proctor, to Hale: Now, sir - do you have it? 

Hale: Mary Warren, a needle have been found inside this poppet. 

Mary Warren, bewildered: Why, I meant no harm by it, sir. 

Proctor, quickly: You stuck that needle in yourself? 

Mary Warren: I - 1 believe I did, sir, I - 



76 The Crucible 

Proctor: to Hale: What say you now? 


Hale, watching Mary > Warren closely: Child, you are certain this be your natural 
memory? May it be, perhaps, that someone conjures you even now to say this? 

Mary Warren: Conjures me? Why, no, sir, I am entirely my-self, I think. Let you ask 
Susanna Walcott - she saw me sewin’ it in court. Or better still: Ask Abby, Abby sat 
beside me when I made it. 

Proctor, to Hale, of Cheever: Bid him begone. Your mind is surely settled now. Bid him 
out, Mr. Hale. 

Elizabeth: What signifies a needle? 

Hale: Mary - you charge a cold and cruel murder on Abigail. 

Mary Warren: Murder! I charge no - 

Hale: Abigail were stabbed tonight; a needle were found stuck into her belly - 
Elizabeth: And she charges me? 

Hale: Aye. 

Elizabeth, her breath knocked out: Why - ! The girl is mur-der! She must be ripped out 
of the world! 

Cheever, pointing at Elizabeth: You’ve heard that, sir! Ripped out of the world! 
Herrick, you heard it! 

Proctor, suddenly snatching the warrant out of Cheever ’s hands: Out with you. 

Cheever: Proctor, you dare not touch the warrant. 

Proctor, ripping the warrant: Out with you! 

Cheever: You’ve ripped the Deputy Governor’s warrant, man! 



Act Twc 77 

Proctor: Damn the Deputy Governor! Out of my house! 

Hale: Now, Proctor, Proctor! 

PRoctoR: Get y’gone with them! You are a broken minister. Hale: Proctor, if she is innocent, the court - 

Proctor: If she is innocent! Why do you never wonder if Parris be innocent, or Abigail? Is the 
accuser always holy now? Were they born this morning as clean as God’s fingers? I’ll tell you 
what’s walking Salem - vengeance is walking Salem. We are what we always were in Salem, but 
now the little crazy children are jangling the keys of the kingdom, and common vengeance writes 
the law! This warrant’s vengeance! I’ll not give my wife to vengeance! 

Elizabeth: I’ll go, John - Proctor: You will not go! 

Herrick: I have nine men outside. You cannot keep her. The lair binds me, John, I 
cannot budge. 

Proctor, to Hale, ready to break him: Will you see her taken? Hale: Proctor, the court is 
just- 

Proctor: Pontius Pilate! God will not let you wash your hands of this! 

Elizabeth: John - 1 think I must go with them. He cannot bear to look at her. Mary, there 
is bread enough for the morning; you will bake, in the afternoon. Help Mr. Proctor as 
you were his daughter - you owe me that, and much more. She is fighthing her weeping. 

To Proctor: When the children wake, speak noth-ing of witchcraft - it will frighten 
them. She cannot go on. 

Proctor: I will bring you home. I will bring you soon. Elizabeth: Oh, John, bring 
me soon! 



78 


The Crucible 


Proctor: I will fall like an ocean on that court! Pear nothing, Elizabeth. 

Elizabeth, with great fear: I will fear nothing. She looks about the room, as 
though to fix it in her mind. Tell the children I have gone to visit someone sick. 

.She walks out the door, Herrick and Cheever behind her. For a moment, 
Proctor watches from the doorway. The clank of chain is heard. 

PRoctoR: Herrick! Herrick, don’t chain her! He rushes out the door. From 
outside: Da mn you, man, you will not chain her! Off with them! I’ll not have it! 
I will not have her chained! 

There are other men's voices against his. Hale, in a fever of guilt and 
uncertainty, turns from the door to avoid the sight; Maty Warren bursts into 
tears and sits weeping. Giles Corey calls to Hale. 

Giles: And yet silent, minister? It is fraud, you know it is fraud! %hat keeps 
you, man? 

Proctor is half braced, half pushed into the room by two deputies and Herrick. 
Proctor: I’ll pay you, Herrick, I will surely pay you! 

Herrick , panting: In God’s name, John, I cannot help myself. I must chain them 
all. Now let you keep inside this house till 1 am gone! He goes out with his 
deputies. 

Proctor stands there, gulping air. Horses and a wagon creak-ing are heard. 

Hale, in great uncertainty: Mr. Proctor - Proctor: Out of my 

sight! 

Hale: Charity, Proctor, charity. What I have heard in her favor, I will not fear to 
testify in court. God help me, I cannot 



Act Two 


79 


judge her guilty or innocent - 1 know not. Only this consider: the world goes mad, and it 
profit nothing you should lay the cause to the vengeance of a little girl. 

Proctor: You are a coward! Though you be ordained in God’s own tears, you are a 
coward now! 

Hale: Proctor, I cannot think God be provoked so grandly by such a petty cause. The 
jails are packed - our greatest judges sit in Salem now - and hangin’s promised. Man, 
we must look to cause proportionate. Were there murder done, perhaps, and never 
brought to light? Abomination? Some secret blasphemy that stinks to Heaven? Think on 
cause, man, and let you help me to discover it. For there’s your way, believe it, there is 
your only way, when such confusion strikes upon the world. He goes to Giles and 
Francis. Let you counsel among yourselves; think on your village and what may have 
drawn from heaven such thundering wrath upon you all. I shall pray God open up our 
eyes. 

Hale goes out. 

Francis, struck by Hate ’s mood: I never heard no murder done in Salem. 

Proctor - he has been reached by Hale ’s words: Leave me, Francis, leave me. 

Giles, shaken: John - tell me, are we lost? 

Proctor: Go home now, Giles, We’ll speak on it tomorrow. 

Giles: Let you think on it. We’ll come early, eh? 

Proctor: Aye. Go now, Giles. 

Giles: Good night, then. 

Giles Corey goes out. After a moment: 

Mary Warren, in a fearful squeak of n voice: Mr. Proctor, 



80 


The Crucible 


very likely they’ll let her come home once they’re given proper evidence. 

Proctor: You’re coming to the court with me, Mary. You will tell it in the court, 

Mary Warren: I cannot charge murder on Abigail. 

Proctor, moving menacingly toward her: You will tell the court how that poppet come 
here and who stuck the needle in. 

Mary Warren: She’ll kill me for sayin’ that! Proctor continues toward her. Abby’ll 
charge lechery on you, Mr. Proctor! 

Proctor, halting: She’s told you! 

Mary Warren: I have known it, sir. She’ll ruin you with it, I know she will. 

Proctor, hesitating, and with deep hatred of himself: Good. Then her saintliness is done 
with. Maty backs from him. We will slide together into our pit; you will tell the court 
what you know. 

Mary Warren, in terror: I cannot, they’ll turn on me - 

Proctor strides and catches her, and she is repeating, “I cannot, I cannot! ” 

Proctor: My wife will never die for me! I will bring your guts into your mouth but that 
goodness will not die for me! 

Mary Warren, struggling to escape him: I cannot do it, I cannot! 

Proctor, grasping her by the throat as though he would strangle her: Make your peace 
with it! Now Hell and Heaven grapple on our backs, and all our old pretense is ripped 
away - make your peace! He throws her to the poor, where she sobs, "I cannot, I 
cannot... ’’And now, half to himself, staring, and 



Act Two 


81 


turning to the open door: Peace. It is a providence, and no great change; we are only what we 
always were, but naked now. He walks as though toward a great horror, facing the open sky’. 
e, naked! And the wind, God’s icy wind, will blow! 

And she is over and over again sobbing, “I cannot, I cannot, l cannot, ” as 

THE CURTAIN FALLS* 

*Act II, Scene 2, which appeared in the original production, was dropped by the author from the published reading 
version, the Collected Plays, and all Compass editions prior to 1971. It has not been included in most prodluctions 
subsequent to the revival at New York’s Martinique Theatre in • 1958 and was dropped by Sir Laurence Olivier in his 
London production in 1965. it is included here as an appendix on page 148. 



ACT THREE 


The vestry room of the Salem meeting house, now serving as the anteroom of 
the General Court. 

As the curtain rises, the room is empty, but for sunlight pouring through two 
high windows in the back wall. The room is solemn, even forbidding. Heavy 
beams jut out, boards of random widths make up the walls. At the right are two 
doors leading into the meeting house proper, where the court is being held. At 
the left another door leads outside. 

There is a plain bench at the left, and another at the right. In the center a rather 
long meeting table, with stools and a considerable armchair snugged up to it. 

Through the partitioning wall at the right we hear a prosecutor 's voice, Judge 
Hathorne ’s, asking a question; then a woman ’s voice, Martha Corey ’s, 
replying. 

Hathome's Voice: Now, Martha Corey, there is abundant evidence in our hands 
to show that you have given yourself to the reading of fortunes, Do you deny it? 

MARTHA CoREy’s Voice: I am innocent to a witch. I know not what a witch 



84 


The Crucible 


HATHoRNE’s Voice: How do you know, then, that you are not a witch? 
Martha Corey’s Voice: If I were, I would know it. 

HATHoRNE’s Voice: Why do you hurt these children? 

Martha Corey’s Voice: I do not hurt them. I scorn it! 

Giles’ Voice, roaring: I have evidence for the court! 

Voices of townspeople rise in excitement. 

Danforth’s Voice: You will keep your seat! 

Giles Voice: Thomas Putnam is reaching out for land! 

Danforth’s Voice: Remove that man, Marshal! 

Giles’ Voice: You’re hearing lies, lies! 

A roaring goes up from the people. 

Hathorne’s Voice: Arrest him, excellency! 

Giles’ Voice: I have evidence. Why will you not hear my evi-dence? 

The door opens and Giles is half carried into the vestry room by Herrick. 
Giles: Hands off, damn you, let me go! 

Herrick: Giles, Giles! 

Giles: Out of my way, Herrick! I bring evidence - 
Herrick: You cannot go in there, Giles; it’s a court! 

Enter Hale from the court. 

Hale: Pray be calm a moment. 

Giles: You, Mr. Hale, go in there and demand I speak. 

Hale: A moment, sir, a moment. 



Act Three Giles: They’ll be hangin’ my wife! 


85 


Judge Hathorne enters. He is in his sixties, a bitter, remorseless Salem judge. 

Hathome: How do you dare come roarin’ into this court! Are you gone daft, 
Corey? 

Giles: You’re not a Boston judge yet, Hathorne. You’ll not call me daft! 

Enter Deputy Governor Danforth and, behind him, Ezekiel Cheever and Parris. 
On his appearance, silence falls. Danforth is a grave man in his sixties, of some 
humor and sophistication that does not, however, interfere with an exact loyalty 
to his position and his cause. He comes down to Giles, who awaits his wrath. 

Danforth, looking directly at Giles: Who is this man? 

pARRIS: Giles Corey, sir, and a more contentious - 

Giles, to Parris: 1 am asked the question, and I am old enough to answer it! To 
Danforth, who impresses him and to whom he smiles through his strain: My 
name is Corey, sir, Giles Corey. 1 have six hundred acres, and timber in 
addition. It is my wife you be condemning now. He indicates the courtroom. 

Danforth: And how do you imagine to help her cause with such contemptuous 
riot? Now be gone. Your old age alone keeps you out of jail for this. 

Giles, beginning to plead: They be tellin’ lies about my wife, sir, I - 

Danforth: Do you take it upon yourself to determine what this court shall 
believe and what it shall set aside? 

Giles: Your Excellency, we mean no disrespect for - 
Danforth: Disrespect indeed! It is disruption, Mister. This is 



86 


The Crucible 


the highest court of the supreme government of this province, do you know it? 

GiLES, beginning to weep: Your Excellency, I only said she were readin’ 
books, sir, and they come and take her out of my house for - 

Danforth, mystified: Books! What books? 

Giles, through helpless sobs: It is my third wife, sir; I never had no wife that be 
so taken with books, and I thought to find the cause of it, d’y’see, but it were no 
witch I blamed her for. He is openly weeping. I have broke charity with the 
woman, I have broke charity with her. He covers his face, ashamed. Dan-forth 
is respectfully silent. 

Hale: Excellency, he claims hard evidence for his wife’s de-fense. I think that 
in all justice you must - 

Danforth: Then let him submit his evidence in proper affidavit. You are 
certainly aware of our procedure here, Mr. Hale. To Herrick: Clear this room. 

HERRiCK: Come now, Giles, He gently pushes Corey out. 

Francis: We are desperate, sir; we come here three days now and cannot be 
heard. 

Danforth: Who is this man? 

Francis: Francis Nurse, Your Excellency. 

Hale: His wife’s Rebecca that were condemned this morning. 

Danforth: Indeed! I am amazed to find you in such uproar; I have only good 
report of your character, Mr. Nurse. 

Hathorne: I think they must both be arrested in contempt, sir. 

Danforth, to Francis: Let you write your plea, and in due time I will - 



Act Three 


87 


Francis: Excellency, we have proof for your eyes; God forbid you shut them to it. The 
girls, sir, the girls are frauds. 

Danforth: What’s that? 

FRANcis: We have proof of it, sir. They are all deceiving you. 

Danforth is shocked, but studying Francis. 

Flathome: This is contempt, sir, contempt! 

Danforth: Peace, Judge Flathome. Do you know who I am, Mr. Nurse? 

Francis: I surely do, sir, and I think you must be a wise judge to be what you 
are. 

Danforth: And do you know that near to four hundred are in the jails from 
Marblehead to Lynn, and upon my signature? 

Francis: I - 

Danforth: And seventy-two condemned to hang by that signature? 

Francis: Excellency, I never thought to say it to such a weighty judge, but you 
are deceived. 

Enter Giles Corey from left. All turn to see as he beckons in Mar\> Warren with 
Proctor. Maty is keeping her eyes to the ground; Proctor has her elbow as 
though she were near collapse. 

Parris, on seeing her, in shock: Mary Warren! He goes directly to bend close to 
her face. What are you about here? 

Proctor, pressing Parris away from her with a gentle but burnt motion of 
protectiveness: She would speak with the Deputy Governor. 

Danforth, shocked by this, turns to Herrick: Did you not tell me Mary Warren 
were sick in bed? 



The Crucible 


Herrick: She were, Your Honor. When I go to fetch her to the court last week, 
she said she were sick. 

Giles: She has been strivin’ with her soul all week, Your Honor; she comes now 
to tell the truth of this to you. 

Danforth: Who is this? 

Proctor: John Proctor, sir. Elizabeth Proctor is my wife. 

Parris: Beware this man. Your Excellency, this man is mischief. 

Hale, excitedly: I think you must hear the girl, sir, she - 

Danforth, who has become very > interested in Maty Warren and only raises a 
hand toward Hale: Peace. What would you tell us, Mary Warren? 

Proctor looks at her, but she cannot speak. Proctor! She never 
saw no spirits, sir. 

Danforth, with great alarm and surprise, to Maty: Never saw no spirits! 

Giles, eagerly: Never. 

Proctor, reaching into his jacket: She has signed a deposition, 
sir - 

Danforth, instantly: No, no, 1 accept no depositions. He is rapidly calculating 
this; he turns from her to Proctor. Tell me, Mr. Proctor, have you given out this 
story in the village? 

Proctor: We have not. 

Parris: They’ve come to overthrow the court, sir! This man is - 

Danforth: I pray you, Mr, Parris. Do you know, Mr. Proctor, that the entire 
contention of the state in these trials is that the voice of Heaven is speaking 
through the children? 


Proctor: I know that, sir. 



Act Three 


89 


Danforth, thinks, staring at Proctor, then turns to Mary War-ren: And you, Mary 
Warren, how came you to cry out people for sending their spirits against you? 

Mary Warren: It were pretense, sir. 

Danforth: I cannot hear you. 

Proctor: It were pretense, she says. 

Danforth: Ah? And the other girls? Susanna Walcott, and - the others? They are 
also pretending? 

Mary Warren: Aye, sir. 

Danforth, wide-eyed: Indeed. Pause. He is baffled by this. He turns to study 
Proctor ’s face. 

Parris, in a sweat: Excellency, you surely cannot think to let so vile a lie be 
spread in open court! 

Danforth: Indeed not, but it strike hard upon me that she will dare come here 
with such a tale. Now, Mr. Proctor, before I decide whether I shall hear you or 
not, it is my duty to tell you this. We bum a hot fire here; it melts down all 
concealment. 

Proctor: I know that, sir. 

Danforth: Let me continue. I understand well, a husband’s tenderness may drive 
him to extravagance in defense of a wife. Are you certain in your conscience, 
Mister, that your evidence is the truth? 

Proctor: It is. And you will surely know it. 

Danforth: And you thought to declare this revelation in the open court before 
the public? 

Proctor: I thought I would, aye - with your permission. 

Danforth, his eyes narrowing: Now, sir, what is your purpose in so doing? 



90 The Crucible 

PRoctoR: Why, I - 1 would free my wife, sir. 

Danforth: There lurks nowhere in your heart, nor hidden in your spirit, any 
desire to undermine this court? 

Proctor, with the faintest faltering: Why, no, sir. 

Cheever, clears his throat, awakening: I - Your Excellency. 

Danforth: Mr. Cheever. 

Cheever: I think it be my duty, sir - Kindly, to Proctor: You’ll not deny it, John. 
To Danforth: When we come to take his wife, he damned the court and ripped 
your warrant. 

Parris: Now you have it! 

Danforth: He did that, Mr. Hale? 

Hale, takes a breath: Aye, he did. 

Proctor: It were a temper, sir. I knew not what I did. 

Danforth, studying him: Mr. Proctor. 

Proctor: Aye, sir. 

Danforth, straight into his eyes: Have you ever seen the Devil? 

Proctor: No, sir. 

Danforth: Y ou are in all respects a Gospel Christian? 

Proctor: I am, sir. 

Parris: Such a Christian that will not come to church but once in a month! 
Danforth, restrained - he is curious: Not come to church? 

Proctor: I - 1 have no love for Mr. Parris. It is no secret. But God I surely love. 


Cheever: He plow on Sunday, sir. 



Act Three 

Danforth: Plow on Sunday! 


91 


Cheever, apologetically: 1 think it be evidence, John. I am an official of the court, I 
cannot keep it. 

Proctor: I - I have once or twice plowed on Sunday. 1 have three children, sir, 
and until last year my land give little. 

Giles: You’ll find other Christians that do plow on Sunday if the truth be 
known. 

Hale: Your Honor, 1 cannot think you may judge the man on such evidence. 

Danforth: I judge nothing. Pause. He keeps watching Proctor, who tries to meet 
his gaze. I tell you straight, Mister - I have seen marvels in this court. I have 
seen people choked before my eyes by spirits; I have seen them stuck by pins 
and slashed by daggers. 1 have until this moment not the slightest reason to sus- 
pect that the children may be deceiving me. Do you 'understand my meaning? 

Proctor: Excellency, does it not strike upon you that so many of these women 
have lived so long with such upright reputation, and - 
PARRis: Do you read the Gospel, Mr. Proctor? Proctor: I read 
the Gospel. 

PARRis: I think not, or you should surely know that Cain were an upright man, 
and yet he did kill Abel. 

Proctor: Aye, God tells us that. To Danforth: But who tells us Rebecca Nurse 
murdered seven babies by sending out her spirit on them? It is the children only, 
and this one will swear she lied to you. 

Danforth considers, then beckons Hathorne to him. Hathorne leans in, and he 
speaks in his ear. Hathorne nods. 



92 


The Crucible 


Hathome: Aye, she’s the one. 

Danforth: Mr. Proctor, this morning, your wife send me a claim in which she 
states that she is pregnant now. 

Proctor: My wife pregnant! 

Danforth: There be no sign of it - we have examined her body. 

Proctor: But if she say she is pregnant, then she must be! That woman will 
never lie, Mr. Danforth. 

Danforth: She will not? 

Proctor: Never, sir, never. 

Danforth: We have thought it too convenient to be credited. However, if I 
should tell you now that I will let her be kept another month; and if she begin to 
show her natural signs, you shall have her living yet another year until she is 
delivered - what say you to that? John Proctor is struck silent. Come now. You 
say your only purpose is to save your wife. Good, then, she is saved at least this 
year, and a year is long. What say ' you, sir? It is done now. In convict, Proctor 
glances at Francis and Giles. Will you drop this charge? 

PRocToR: I - 1 thi nk I cannot. 

Danforth, now an almost imperceptible hardness in his voice: Then your 
purpose is somewhat larger. 

Parris: He’s come to overthrow this court, Your Honor! 

Proctor: These are my friends. Their wives are also accused - 

Danforth, with a sudden briskness of manner: I judge you not, sir. I am ready to 
hear your evidence. 

Proctor: I come not to hurt the court; I only - 

Danforth, cutting him op: Marshal, go into the court and bid 



Act Three 


93 


Judge Stoughton and Judge Sewall declare recess for one hour. And let them go to the 
tavern, if they will. All witnesses and prisoners are to be kept m the building. 

Herrick: Aye, sir'. Very deferentially: If I may say it, sir, I know this man all my 
life. It is a good man, sir. 

Danforth - it is the reflection on himself he resents: I am sure of it, Marshal. 
Herrick nods, then goes out. Now, what deposi-tion do you have for us, Mr. 
Proctor? And I beg you be clear, open as the sky, and honest. 

Proctor, as he takes out several papers: I am no lawyer, so I'll - 

Danforth: The pure in heart need no lawyers. Proceed as you will. 

Proctor, handing Danforth a paper: Will you read this first, sir? It’s a sort of 
testament. The people signing it declare their good opinion of Rebecca, and my 
wife, and Martha Corey. Danforth looks down at the paper. 

Parris, to enlist Danforth ’s sarcasm: Their good opinion! But Danforth goes on 
reading, and Proctor is heartened. 

Proctor: These are all landholding farmers, members of the church. Delicately, 
trying to point out a paragraph: If you’ll notice, sir - they’ve known the women 
many years and never saw no sign they had dealings with the Devil. 

Parris nervously moves over and reads over Dan forth ’s shoulder: 

Danforth, glancing down a long list: How many names are here? 

Francis: Ninety-one, Your Excellency. 

PaRRis, 'sweating: These people should be summoned. Danforth Looks up at 
him questioningly. For questioning. 



94 


The Crucible 


Francis, trembling with anger: Mr. Danforth, I gave them all my word no harm 
would come to them for signing this. 

Parris: This is a clear attack upon the court! 

Hale, to Parris, trying to contain himself: Is every defense an attack upon the 
court? Can no one - ? 

Parris: All innocent and Christian people are happy for the courts in Salem! 
These people are gloomy for it. To Danforth directly: And I think you will want 
to know, from each and every one of them, what discontents them with you! 

Hathome: I think they ought to be examined, sir. 

Danforth: It is not necessarily an attack, I think. Yet - 

Francis: These are all covenanted Christians, sir. 

Danforth: Then I am sure they may have nothing to fear. Hands Cheever the 
paper. Mr. Cheever, have warrants drawn for all of these - arrest for 
examination. To Proctor: Now, Mister, what other information do you have for 
us? Francis is still standing, horrified. You may sit, Mr. Nurse. 

Francis: I have brought trouble on these people; I have - 

Danforth: No, old man, you have not hurt these people if they are of good 
conscience. But you must understand, sir, that a person is either with this court 
or he must be counted against it, there be no road between. This is a shaip time, 
now, a pre-cise time - we live no longer in the dusky afternoon when evil mixed 
itself with good and befuddled the world. Now, by God’s grace, the shining sun 
is up, and them that fear not light will surely praise it. I hope you will be one of 
those. Man > Warren suddenly sobs. She’s not hearty, I see. 

Proctor: No, she’s not, sir. To Man >, bending to her, holding her hand, quietly: 
Now remember what the angel Raphael saint to the boy Tobias. Remember it. 



Act Three Mary Warren, hardly audible: Aye. 


95 


Proctor: “Do that which is good, and no harm shall come to thee.” 

Mary Warren: Aye. 

Danforth: Come, man, we wait you. 

Marshal Herrick returns, and takes his post at the door. 

Giles: John, my deposition, give him mine. 

Proctor: Aye. He hands Danforth another paper. This is Mr. Corey’s 
deposition. 

Danforth: Oh? He looks down at it. Now Hathorne comes behind him and reads 
with him. 

Hathorne, suspiciously: What lawyer drew this, Corey? 

Giles: You know I never hired a lawyer in my life, Hathorne. 

Danforth, finishing the reading: It is very well phrased. My compliments. Mr. 
Parris, if Mr. Putnam is in the court, will you bring him in? Hathorne takes the 
deposition, and walks to the window with it. Parris goes into the court. You 
have no legal training, Mr. Corey? 

Giles, very pleased: I have the best, sir - I am thirty-three time in court in my 
life. And always plaintiff, too. 

Danforth: Oh, then you’re much put-upon. 

Giles: I am never put-upon; I know my rights, sir, and I will have them. You 
know, your father tried a case of mine - might be thirty-five year ago, I think. 

Danforth: Indeed. 

Giles: He never spoke to you of it? 


Danforth: No, I cannot recall it. 



96 


The Crucible 


Giles: That’s strange, he give me nine pound damages. He were a fair judge, your 
father. Y’see, I had a white mare that tinge, and this fellow come to borrow the mare - 
Enter Parris with Thomas Putnam. When he sees Putnam, Giles ’ ease goes; he is hard. 
Aye, there he is. 

Danforth: Mr. Putnam, I have here an accusation by Mr. Corey against you. He 
states that you coldly prompted your daughter to cry witchery upon George 
Jacobs that is now in jail. 

Putnam: It is a lie. 

Danforth, turning to Giles: Mr. Putnam states your charge is a lie. What say you 
to that? 

Giles , furious, his fists clenched: A fart on Thomas Putnam, that is what I say to 
that! 

DANFoRth: What proof do you submit for your charge, sir? 

Giles: My proof is there! Pointing to the paper. If Jacobs hangs for a witch he 
forfeit up his property - that’s law! And there is none but Putnam with the; coin 
to buy so great a piece. This man is killing his neighbors for their land! 

Danforth: But proof, sir, proof. 

Giles, pointing at his deposition: The proof is there! I have it from an honest 
man who heard Putnam say it! The day his daughter cried out on Jacobs, he said 
she’d given him a fair gift of land. 

Hathome: And the name of this man? 

Giles, taken aback: What name? 

Hathome: The man that give you this information. 

Giles, hesitates, then: Why, I - 1 cannot give you his name. 


Hathome: And why not? 



Act Three 


97 


Giles, hesitates, then bursts out: You know well why not! He’ll lay in jail if I give his 
name! 

Hathome: This is contempt of the court, Mr. Danforth! 

Danforth, to avoid that: Y ou will surely tell us the name. 

Giles: I will not give you no name, I mentioned my wife’s name once and I’ll 
bum in hell long enough for that. I stand mute. 

Danforth: In that case, I have no choice but to arrest you for contempt of this 
court, do you know that? 

Giles: This is a hearing; you cannot clap me for contempt of a hearing. 

Danforth: Oh, it is a proper lawyer! Do you wish me to declare the court in full 
session here? Or will you give me good reply? 

Giles , faltering: I cannot give you no name, sir, I cannot. 

Danforth: You are a foolish old man. Mr. Cheever, begin the record. The court 
is now in session. I ask you, Mr. Corey - 

Proctor, breaking in: Your Honor - he has the story in confi-dence, sir, and he - 

Parris: The Devil lives on such confidences! To Danforth: Without confidences 
there could be no conspiracy, Your Honor! 

Hathome. I think it must be broken, sir. 

DANFoRTH, to Giles: Old man, if your informant tells the truth let him come 
here openly like a decent man. But if he hide in anonymity I must know why. 
Now sir, the government and central church demand of you the name of him 
who reported Mr. Thomas Putnam a common murderer. 

Hale: Excellency - 
Danforth: Mr. Hale. 



98 


The Crucible 


Hale: We cannot blink it more. There is a prodigious fear of this court in the country - 

DANFoRth: Then there is a prodigious guilt m the country. Are you afraid to be 
questioned here? 

Flale: I may only fear the Lord, sir, bat there is fear in the country nevertheless. 

Danforth, angered now: Reproach me not with the fear in the country; there is 
fear in the country because there is a moving plot to topple Christ in the 
country! 

Hale: But it does not follow that everyone accused is part of it. 

Danforth; No uncorrupted man may fear this court, Mr. Hale! None! To Giles: 
You are under arrest in contempt of this court. Now sit you down and take 
counsel with yourself, or you will be set in the jail until you decide to answer all 
questions. 

Giles Corey makes a rush for Putnam. Proctor lunges and holds him. 

Proctor: No, Giles! 

Giles, over Proctor’s shoulder at Putnam: I’ll cut your throat, Putnam, I’ll kill 
you yet! 

Proctor , forcing him into a chair: Peace, Giles, peace. Re-leasing him. We’ll 
prove ourselves. Now we will. He starts to turn to Danforth. 

Giles: Say nothin’ more, John. Pointing at Danforth: He’s only playin’ you! He 
means to hang us all! 

Maty Warren bursts into sobs. 

Danforth: This is a court of law, Mister. I’ll have no effron-tery here! 

Proctor: Forgive him, sir, for his old age. Peace, Giles, we’ll prove it all now. 
He lifts up Mary ’s chin. You cannot weep. 



Act Three 


99 


Mary. Remember the angel, what he say to the boy. Hold to it, now; there is your rock. 
Maty quiets. He takes out a paper, and turns to Danforth. This is Mary Warren’s 
deposition. I - 1 would ask you remember, sir, while you read it, that until two week ago 
she were no different than the other children are today. He is speaking reasonably, 
restraining all his fears, his anger, his anxiety. You saw her scream, she howled, she 
swore familiar spirits choked her; she even testified that Satan, in the form of women 
now in jail, tried to win hex soul away, and then when she refused - 

Danforth: We know all this. 

Proctor: Aye, sir. She swears now that she never saw Satan; nor any spirit, vague or 
clear, that Satan may have sent to hurt her. And she declares her friends are lying now. 

Proctor starts to hand Danforth the deposition, and Hale comes up to Danforth in a 
trembling state. 

Hale: Excellency, a moment. I think this goes to the heart of the matter. 

Danforth, with deep misgivings: It surely does. 

Hale: I cannot say he is an honest man; I know him little. But in all justice, sir, a claim 
so weighty cannot be argued by a farmer. In God’s name, sir, stop here; send him home 
and let him come again with a lawyer - 

Danforth , patiently: Now look you, Mr. Hale - 

Hale: Excellency, I have signed seventy-two death warrants; I am a minister of the Lord, 
and I dare not take a life without there be a proof so immaculate no slightest qualm of 
conscience may doubt it. 

Danforth: Mr. Hale, you surely do not doubt my justice. 

Hale: I have this morning signed away the soul of Rebecca 



1 00 The Crucible 


Nurse, Your Honor. I’ll not conceal it, my hand shakes yet as with a wound! I 
pray you, sir, this argument let lawyers present to you. 

Danforth: Mr. Hale, believe me; for a man of such terrible learning you are most 
bewildered - 1 hope you will forgive me. I have been thirty-two year at the bar, 
sir, and I should be con-founded were I called upon to defend these people. Let 
you consider, now - To Proctor and the others: And I bid you all do likewise. In 
an ordinary crime, how does one defend the accused? One calls up witnesses to 
prove his innocence. But witchcraft is ipso facto, on its face and by its nature, 
an invisible crime, is it not? Therefore, who may possibly be witness to it? The 
witch and the victim. None other. Now we cannot hope the witch will accuse 
herself; granted? Therefore, we must rely upon her victims - and they do testify, 
the children certainly do testify. As for the witches, none will deny that we are 
most eager for all their confessions. Therefore, what is left for a lawyer to bring 
out? I think I have made my point. Have I not? 

Hale: But this child claims the girls are not truthful, and if they are not - 

Danforth: That is precisely what I am about to consider, sir. What more may 
you ask of me? Unless you doubt my probity? 

Hale, defeated: I surely do not, sir. Let you consider it, then. 

Danforth: And let you put your heart to rest. Her deposition, Mr. Proctor. 

Proctor hands it to him. Hathorne rises, goes beside Danforth, and starts 
reading. Parris comes to his other side. Danforth looks at John Proctor, then 
proceeds to read. Hale gets up, finds position near the judge, reads too. Proctor 
glances at Giles. Francis prays silently, hands pressed together. Cheever waits 
placidly, the sublime official, dutiful. Mary > Warren sobs once. John Proctor 
touches her head reassuringly. Presently Danforth 



Act Three 


101 


lifts his eyes, stands up, takes out a kerchief and blows his nose. The others stand aside 
as he moves in thought toward the window. 

Parris, hardly able to contain his anger and fear: I should like to question - 

DANFoRtH - his first real outburst, in which his contempt for Parris is clear: 
Mr. Parris, 1 bid you be silent! He stands in silence, looking out the window. 
Now, having established that he will set the gait: Mr. Cheever, will you go into 
the court and bring the children here? Cheever gets up and goes out up-stage. 
Danforth now turns to Man /. Mary Warren, how came you to this turnabout? 
Has Mr. Proctor threatened you for this deposition? 

Mary Warren: No, sir. 


Danforth: Has he ever threatened you? 

Mary Warren, weaker: No, sir. 

Danforth, sensing a weakening: Has he threatened you?- 
Mary Warren: No, sir. 

Danforth: Then you tell me that you sat in my court, cal-lously lying, when you 
knew that people would hang by your evidence? She does not answer. Answer 
me! 

Mary Warken, almost inaudibly: 1 did, sir. 

Danforth: How were you instructed in your life? Do you not know that God 
damns all liars? She cannot speak. Or is it now that you lie'! 

Mary Warren: No, sir - 1 am with God now. 

Danforth: Y ou are with God now. 


Mary Warren: Aye, sir. 



102 


The Crucible 


Danforth, containing himself: I will tell you this - you are either lying now, or you were 
lying in the court, and in either case you have committed perjury and you will go to jail 
for it. You cannot lightly say you lied, Mary. Do you know that? 

Mary Warren: I cannot lie no more. I am with God, I am with God. 

But she breaks into sobs at the thought of it, and the right door opens, and enter 
Susanna Walcott, Mercy Lewis, Betty Parris, and finally Abigail. Cheever 
comes to Danforth. 

CHEEvER: Ruth Putnam’s not in the court, sir, nor the other children. 

Danforth: These will be sufficient. Sit you down, children. Silently they sit. 
Your friend, Mary Warren, has given us a deposition. In which she swears that 
she never saw familiar spirits, apparitions, nor any manifest of the Devil. She 
claims as well that none of you have seen these things either. Slight pause. 
Now, children, this is a court of law. The law, based upon the Bible, and the 
Bible, writ by Almighty God, forbid the practice of witchcraft, and describe 
death as the penalty thereof. But likewise, children, the law and Bible damn all 
bearers of false witness. Slight pause. Now then. It does not escape me that this 
deposition may be devised to blind us; it may well be that Mary Warren has 
been conquered by Satan, who sends her here to distract our sacred purpose. If 
so, her neck will break for it. But if she speak true, I bid you now drop your 
guile and confess your pretense, for a quick confession will go easier with you. 
Pause. Abigail Williams, rise, Abigail slowly rises. Is there any truth in this? 


Abigail: No, sir. 

Danforth, thinks, glances at Maty, then back to Abigail: Chil-dren, a very augur 
bit will now be turned into your souls until 



Act Three 


103 


your honesty is proved. Will either of you change your positions now, or do you force me to 
hard questioning? 

Abigail: 1 have naught to change, sir. She lies. 

Danforth. to Mary: Y ou would still go on with this? 

Mary W arren, faintly: Aye, sir. 

Danforth, turning to Abigail: A poppet were discovered in Mr. Proctor’s house, stabbed 
by a needle. Mary Warren claims that you sat beside her in the court when she made it, 
and that you saw her make it and witnessed how she herself stuck her needle into it for 
safe -keeping. What say you to that? 

Abigail, with a slight note of indignation: It is a lie, sir. 

Danforth, after a slight pause: While you worked for Mr. Proctor, did you see poppets 
in that house? 

Abigail: Goody Proctor always kept poppets. 

Proctor: Your Honor, my wife never kept no poppets. Mary Warren confesses it was 
her poppet. 

Cheever: Y our Excellency. Danforth: Mr. 

Cheever. 

Cheever: When I spoke with Goody Proctor in that house, she said she never kept no 
poppets. But she said she did keep poppets when she were a girl. 

Proctor: She has not been a girl these fifteen years, Y our Honor. 

Hathome: But a poppet will keep fifteen years, will it not? 

Proctor: It will keep i£ it is kept, but Mary Warren swears she never saw no poppets in 
my house, nor anyone else. 



1 04 The Crucible 

Parris: Why could there not have been poppets hid where no one ever saw 
them? 

Proctor, furious: There might also be a dragon with five legs in my house, but 
no one has ever seen it. 

Parris: We are here, Your Honor, precisely to discover what no one has ever 
seen. 

Proctor: Mr. Danforth, what profit this girl to turn herself about? What may 
Mary Warren gain but hard questioning and worse? 

Danforth: You are charging Abigail William s with a mar-velous cool plot to 
murder, do you understand that? 

Proctor: I do, sir. I believe she means to murder. 

Danforth, pointing at Abigail, incredulously: This child would murder your 
wife? 

Proctor: It is not a child. Now hear me, sir. In the sight of the congregation she 
were twice this year put out of this meetin’ house for laughter during prayer. 

Danforth, shocked, turning to Abigail: What’s this? Laughter during - ! 

Parris: Excellency, she were under Tituba’s power at that time, but she is 
solemn now. 

GiLEs: Aye, now she is sole mn and goes to hang people! Danforth: Quiet, man. 

Hathome: Surely it have no bearing on the question, sir. He charges 
contemplation of murder. 

Danforth: Aye. He studies Abigail for a moment, then: Con-tinue, Mr. Proctor. 


Proctor: Mary. Now tell the Governor how you danced in the woods. 



Act Three 


105 


Parris, instantly: Excellency, since I come to Salem this man is blackening my name. He - 

Danforth: In a moment, sir. To Man / Warren, sternly, and surprised: What is this 
dancing? 

Mary Warren: I - She glances at Abigail, who is staring down at her remorselessly. 
Then, appealing to Proctor: Mr. Proctor - 

Proctor, taking it right up: Abigail leads the girls to the woods, Your Honor, and they 
have danced there naked - 

Parris: Your Honor, this - 

Proctor, at once: Mr. Parris discovered them himself in the dead of night! There’s the 
“child” she is! 

Danforth - it is growing into a nightmare, and he turns, as-tonished, to Parris: Mr. 
Parris - 

Parris: I can only say, sir, that I never found any of them naked, and this man is - 

Danforth: But you discovered them dancing in the woods? Eyes on Parris, he points at 
Abigail. Abigail? 

Hale: Excellency, when I first arrived from Beverly, Mr. Parris told me that. 

Danforth: Do you deny it, Mr. Parris? 

Parris: I do not, sir, but I never saw any of them naked. 

Danforth: But she have danced? 

Parris, unwillingly: Aye, sir. 

Danforth, as though with new eyes, looks at Abigail. 

Hathome: Excellency, will you permit me? Pie points at Maty Warren. 

Danforth, with great worry: Pray, proceed. 



106 


The Crucible 


Hathorne: You say you never saw no spirits, Mary, were never threatened or afflicted by 
any manifest of the Devil or the Devil’s agents. 

Mary Warren, very faintly: No, sir. 

Hathorne, with a gleam of victory’: And yet, when people ac-cused of witchery 
confronted you in court, you would faint, saying their spirits came out of their 
bodies and choked you - 

Mary Warren: That were pretense, sir. 

Danforth: I cannot hear you. 

Mary Warren: Pretense, sir. 

Parris: But you did turn cold, did you not? I myself picked you up many times, 
and your skin were icy, Mr. Danforth, you - 

Danforth: I saw that many times. 

Proctor: She only pretended to faint, Your Excellency. They’re all marvelous 
pretenders. 

Hathorne: Then can she pretend to faint now? Proctor: Now? 

Parris: Why not? Now there are no spirits attacking her, for none in this room is 
accused of witchcraft. So let her turn herself cold now, let her pretend she is 
attacked now, let her faint. He turns to Mary Warren. Faint! 

Mary Warren: Faint? 

Parris: Aye, faint. Prove to us how you pretended in the court so many times. 
MARy Warren, looking to Proctor: I - cannot faint now, sir. Proctor, alarmed, 
quietly: Can you not pretend it? 



Act Three 


107 


Mary Warren: I - She looks about as though searching for the passion to faint. I - have 

no sense of it now, I - 

DANFoRrth: Why? What is lacking now? 

MARY Warren: I - cannot tell, sir, I - 

Danforth: Might it be that here we have no afflicting spirit loose, but in the 
court there were some? 

Mary Warren: I never saw no spirits. 

PARRis: Then see no spirits now, and prove to us that you can faint by your 
own will, as you claim. 

Mary Warren, stares, searching for the emotion of it, and then shakes her head: 
I - cannot do it. 

Parris: Then you will confess, will you not? It were attacking spirits made you 
faint! 

Mary Warren: No, sir, I - 

Parris: Your Excellency, this is a trick to blind the court! 

Mary Warren: It’s not a trick! She stands. I - 1 used to faint because I - 1 thought 
I saw spirits. 

Danforth: Thought you saw them! 

Mary Warren: But I did not, Your Honor. 

Hathome: How could you think you saw them unless you saw them? 

Mary Warren: I - I cannot tell how, but I did. I - I heard the other girls 
screaming, and you, Your Honor, you seemed to believe them, and I - It were 
only sport in the beginning, sir, but then the whole world cried spirits, spirits, 
and I - 1 promise you, Mr. Danforth, I only thought I saw them but I did not. 


Danforth peers at her. 



108 The Crucible 


PARRIs, smiling, but nervous because Danforth seems to be struck by Maty 
Warren ’s story: Surely Your Excellency is not taken by this simple lie. 

Danforth, turning worriedly to Abigail: Abigail. 1 bid you now search your heart 
and tell me this - and beware of it, child, to God every soul is precious and His 
vengeance is terrible on them that take life without cause. Is it possible, child, 
that the spirits you have seen are illusion only, some deception that may cross 
your mind when - 

Abigail: Why, this - this - is a base question, sir. 

Danforth: Child, I would have you consider it - 

Abigail: I have been hurt, Mr. Danforth; I have seen my blood runnin’ out! I 
have been near to murdered every day because 1 done my duty pointing out the 
Devil’s people - and this is my reward? To be mistrusted, denied, questioned 
like a - 

Danforth, weakening: Child, I do not mistrust you - 

Abigial, in an open threat: Let you beware, Mr. Danforth. Think you to be so 
mighty that the power of Hell may not turn your wits? Beware of it! There is - 
Suddenly, from an accusa-toiy attitude, her face turns, looking into the ait- 
above - it is truly frightened. 

Danforth, apprehensively: What is it, child? 

Abigail, looking about in the air, clasping her arms about her as though cold: I 
- 1 know not. A wind, a cold wind, has come. Her eyes fall on Man i Warren. 

Mary Warren, terrified, pleading: Abby! 

Mercy Lewis, shivering: Your Honor, I freeze! 

Proctor: They’re pretending! 



Act Three 


109 


Hathorne, touching Abigail’s hand: She is cold. Your Honor, touch her! 

Mercy Lewis, through chattering teeth: Mary, do you send this shadow on me? 
Mary Warren: Lord, save me! 

Susanna Walcott: I freeze, I freeze! 

Abigail, shivering visibly: It is a wind, a wind! 

MARY Warren: Abby, don’t do that! 

Danforth, himself engaged and entered by Abigail: Mary Warren, do you witch 
her? I say to you, do you send your spirit out? 

With a hysterical cry > Maty Warren starts to run. Proctor catches her. 

Mary Warren, almost collapsing: Let me go, Mr. Proctor, I cannot, I cannot - 

Abigail, crying to Heaven: Oh, Heavenly Father, take away this shadow! 

without warning or hesitation, Proctor leaps at Abigail and, grabbing her by 
the hair, pulls her to her feet. She screams in pain. Danforth, astonished, cries, 
“What are you about?’’ and Hathorne and Parris call, “Take your hands op 
her!” and out of it all comes Proctor’s roaring voice. 

PRocToR: How do you call Heaven! Whore! Whore! 

Herrick breaks Proctor from her. 

Herrick: John! 

DAnFoRTH: Man! Man, what do you - 



110 The Crucible 

Proctor, breathless and in agony: It is a whore! Danforth, dumfounded: 

You charge - ? Abigail: Mr. Danforth, he is lying! 

Proctor: Mark her! Now she’ll suck a scream to stab me with, but - 

Danforth: You will prove this! This will not pass! 

Proctor, trembling, his life collapsing about him: I have known her, sir. I have 
known her. 

Danforth: You - you are a lecher? 

Francis, horrified: John, you cannot say such a - 

Proctor: Oh, Francis, I wish you had some evil in you that you might know me! To 
Danforth: A man will not cast away his good name. You surely know that. 

Danforth, dumfounded: In - in what time? In what place? 

Proctor, his voice about to break, and his shame great: In the proper place - where my 
beasts are bedded. On the last night of my joy, some eight months past. She used to 
serve me in my house, sir. He has to clamp his jaw to keep from weeping. A man may 
think God sleeps, but God sees everything, I know it now. I beg you, sir, 1 beg you - see 
her what she is. My wife, my dear good wife, took this girl soon after, sir, and put her 
out on the highroad. And being what she is, a lump of vanity, sir - He is being 
overcome. Excellency, forgive me, forgive me. An-grily against himself he turns away 
from the Governor for a moment. Then, as though to cry > out is his only means of speech 
left: She thinks to dance with me on my wife’s grave! And well she might, for I thought 
of her softly. God help me, t lusted, and there is a promise in such sweat. But it is a 
whore’s venge-ance, and you must see it; I set myself entirely in your hands, I know you 
must see it now. 



Act Three 


111 


Danforth, blanched, in horror, turning to Abigail: You deny every scrap and tittle of 
this? 

Aalu.: If I must answer that, I will leave and I will not come back again! 
Danforth seems unsteady. 

Proctor: 1 have made a bell of my honor! I have rung the doom of my good 
name - you will believe me, Mr. Danforth! My wife is innocent, except she 
knew a whore when she saw one! 

Abigail, stepping up to Danforth: What look do you give me? Danforth cannot 
speak. I’ll not have such looks! She turns and starts for the door. 

Danforth: You will remain where you are! Herrick steps into her path. She 
comes up short, fire in her eyes. Mr. Parris, go into the court and bring 
Goodwife Proctor out. 

Parris, objecting: Y our Honor, this is all a - 

Danforth, sharply to Parris: Bring her out! And tell her not one word of what’s 
been spoken here. And let you knock before you enter. Parris goes out. Now we 
shall touch the bottom of this swamp. To Proctor: Your wife, you say, is an 
honest woman. 

Proctor: In her life, sir, she have never lied. There are them that cannot sing, and 
them that cannot weep - my wife cannot lie. I have paid much to learn it, sir. 

Danforth: And when she put this girl out of your house, she put her out for a 
harlot? 

Proctor: Aye, sir. 

Danforth: And knew her for a harlot? 

Proctor: Aye, sir, she knew her for a harlot. 

Danforth: Good then. To Abigail: And if she tell me, child. 



112 The Crucible 


it were for harlotry, may God spread His mercy on you! There is a knock. He calls to the 
door. Hold! To Abigail: Turn your back. Turn your back. To Proctor: Do likewise. Both 
turn their backs - Abigail with indignant slowness. Now let neither of you turn to face 
Goody Proctor. No one in this room is to speak one word, or raise a gesture aye or nay. 
He turns toward the door, calls: Enter! The door opens. Elizabeth enters with Parris. 
Parris leaves her. She stands alone, her eyes looking for Proctor. Mr. Cheever, report 
this testimony in all exactness. Are you ready? 

Cheever: Ready, sir. 

Danforth: Come here, woman. Elizabeth comes to him, glanc-ing at Proctor's back. 
Look at me only, not at your husband. In my eyes only. 

Elizabeth, faintly: Good, sir. 

Danforth: We are given to understand that at one time you dismissed your servant, 
Abigail Williams. 

Elizabeth: That is true, sir. 

Danforth: For what cause did you dismiss her? Slight pause. Then Elizabeth tries to 
glance at Proctor. Y ou will look in my eyes only and not at your husband. The answer 
is in your memory and you need no help to give it to me. Why did you dismiss Abigail 
William s ? 

Elizabeth, not knowing what to say, sensing a situation, wetting her lips to stall for time: 
She - dissatisfied me. Pause. And my husband. 

Danforth: In what way dissatisfied you? 

Elizabeth: She were - She glances at Proctor for a cue. 

Danforth: Woman, look at me! Elizabeth does. Were she slovenly? Lazy? What 
disturbance did she cause? 



Act Three 113 

Elizabeth: Y our Honor, I - in that time I were sick. And I - My husband is a good and 
righteous man. He is never drunk as some are, nor wastin’ his time at the shovelboard, 
but always at his work. But in my sickness - you see, sir, I were a long time sick after 
my last baby, and I thought I saw my husband somewhat turning from me. And this girl 
- She turns to Abigail. 

Danforth: Look at me. 

Elizabeth: Aye, sir. Abigail William s - She breaks op. 

Danforth: What of Abigail Williams? 

Elizabeth: 1 came to think he fancied her. And so one night I lost my wits, I think, and 
put her out on the highroad. 

Danforth: Y our husband - did he indeed turn from you? 

Elizabeth, in agony: My husband - is a goodly man, sir. 

Danforth: Then he did not turn from you. 

Elizabeth, starting to glance at Proctor: He - 

Danforth, reaches out and holds her face, then: Look at me! To your own knowledge, 
has John Proctor ever committed the crime of lechery? In a crisis of indecision she 
cannot speak, Answer my question! Is your husband a lecher! 

Elizabeth, faintly: No, sir. 

Danforth: Remove her, Marshal. 

Proctor: Elizabeth, tell the truth! 

Danforth: She has spoken. Remove her! 

Proctor, ciying out: Elizabeth, I have confessed it! 

Elizabeth: Oh, God! The door closes behind her. 

Proctor: She only thought to save my name! 



114 The Crucible 


Hale: Excellency, it is a natural lie to tell; I beg you, stop now before another is 
condemned! 1 may shut my conscience to it no more - private vengeance is working 
through this testimony! From the beginning this man has struck me true. By my oath to 
Heaven, I believe him now, and 1 pray you call back his wife before we - 

Danforth: She spoke nothing of lechery, and this man has lied' 

Hale: 1 believe him! Pointing at Abigail: This girl has always struck me false! She has - 
Abigail, with a weird, wild, chilling cry:, screams up to the ceiling. 

Abigail: You will not! Begone! Begone, I say! 

Danforth: What is it, child? But Abigail, pointing with fear, is now raising up her 
frightened eyes, her awed face, toward the ceiling - the girls are doing the same - and 
now Hathorne, Hale, Putnam, Cheever, Herrick, and Danforth do the same. What’s 
there? He lowers his eyes from the ceiling, and now he is fright-ened; there is real 
tension in his voice. Child! She is transfixed - with all the girls, she is whimpering 
open-mouthed, agape at the ceiling. Girls! Why do you - ? 

Mercy Lewis, pointing: It’s on the beam! Behind the rafters 

Danforth, looking up: Where! 

Abigail: Why - ? She gulps. Why do you come, yellow bird? 

Proctor: Where’s a bird? I see no bird! 

Abigail, to the ceiling: My face? My face? 

Proctor: Mr. Hale - 
Danforth: Be quiet! 

Proctor, to Hale: Do you see a bird? 



Danforth: Be quiet! ! 

Act Three 115 

Abigail, to the ceiling, in a genuine conversation with the “bird,. ” as though trying to 
talk it out of attacking her: But God made my face; you cannot want to tear my face. 
Envy is a deadly sin, Mary. 

Mary Warren, on her feet with a spring, and horrified, plead-ing: Abby! 

Abigail, unperturbed, continuing to the “bird”: Oh, Mary, this is a black art to 
change your shape. No, I cannot, I cannot stop my mouth; it’s God’s work I do. 

Mary Warren: Abby, I’m here! 

Proctor, frantically: They’re pretending, Mr. Danforth! 

Abigail - now she takes a backward step, as though in fear the bird will swoop 
down momentarily: Oh, please, Mary! Don’t come down. 

Susanna Walcott: Her claws, she’s stretching her claws! 

Proctor: Lies, lies. 

Abigail, backing further , eyes still fixed above: Mary, please don’t hurt me! 
Mary Warren, to Danforth: I’m not hurting her! 

Danforth, to Maty Warren: Why does she see this vision? 

Mary Warren: She sees nothin’! 

Abigail, now staring full front as though hypnotized, and mimicking the exact 
tone of Maty Warren ’s cry: She sees nothin’ ! 

Mary Warren, pleading: Abby, you mustn’t! 

Abigail AND All THE Girls, all transfixed: Abby, you mustn’t! 


MARY Warren, to all the girls: I’m here, I'm here! 



1 1 6 The Crucible 


Girls: I’m here, I’m here! 

DAnFoRth, horrified: Mary Warren! Draw back your spirit out of them! 

Mary Warren: Mr. Danforth! 

GiRLs, cutting her op: Mr. Danforth! 

Danforth: Have you compacted with the Devil? Have you? 

Mary Warren: Never, never! 

Girls: Never, never! 

Danforth, growing hysterical: Why can they only repeat you? 

PRoctoR: Give me a whip - I’ll stop it! 

Mary Warren: They’re sporting. They - ! 

Girls: They’re sporting! 

.Mary Warren, turning on them all hysterically and stamping her feet: Abby, 
stop it! 

Girls, stamping their feet: Abby, stop it! 

Mary Warren: Stop it! 

Girls: Stop it! 

Mary Warren, screaming it out at the top of her lungs, and raising her fists: 

Stop it! ! 

Girls, raising their fists: Stop it! ! 

Maty Warren, utterly confounded, and becoming overwhelmed by Abigail 's - 
and the girls ’ - utter conviction, starts to whimper, hands half raised, powerless, 
and all the girls begin whimpering exactly as she does. 

Danforth: A little while ago you were afflicted. Now it seems you afflict others; 
where did you find this power? 



Act Three Mary WARREN, staring at Abigail: I - have no power. Girls: I have no power. Proctor: They’re gulling you. 
Mister! 117 

Danforth: Why did you turn about this past two weeks? You have seen the Devil, have 
you not? 

Hale, indicating Abigail and the girls: You cannot believe them! - 
Mary Warren: I - 

Proctor, sensing her weakening: Mary, God damns all liars! 

Danforth, pounding it into her: You have seen the Devil, you have made 
compact with Lucifer, have you not? 

Proctor: God damns liars, Mary! 

Maty utters something unintelligible, staring at Abigail, who keeps watching the 
“bird” above. 

Danforth: I cannot hear you. What do you say? Maty utters again unintelligibly 
You will confess yourself or you will hang! He turns her roughly to face him. 

Do you know who I am? I say you will hang if you do not open with me! 

Proctor: Mary, remember the angel Raphael - do that which is good and - 

Abigail, pointing upward: The wings! Her wings are spreading! Mary, please, 
don’t, don’t - ! 

Hale: I see nothing, Your Honor! 

Danforth: Do you confess this power! He is an inch from her face. Speak! 

Abigail: She’s going to come down! She’s walking the beam! 


Danforth: Will you speak! 



118 


The Crucible 


Mary Warren, staring in horror: I cannot! Girls: I cannot! 

Parris: Cast the Devil out! Look him in the face! Trample him! We’ll save you, 

Mary, only stand fast against him and - 

Abigail, looking up: Look out! She’s coming down! 

She and all the girls run to one wall, shielding their eyes. And now, as though cornered, 
they let out a gigantic scream, and Maty, as though infected, opens her mouth and 
screams with them. Gradually Abigail and the girls leave op, until only Maty is left 
there, staring up at the “bird, ” screaming madly. All watch her, horrified by this evident 
fit. Proctor strides to her. 

Proctor: Mary, tell the Governor what they - He has hardly got a word out, when, seeing 
him coming for her, she rushes out of his reach, screaming in horror, 

Mary Warren: Don’t touch me - don’t touch me! At which the girls halt at the door. 

Proctor, astonished: Mary! 

Mary Warren, pointing at Proctor: You’re the Devil’s man! 

He is stopped in his tracks. 

Parris: Praise God! 

Girls: Praise God! 

Proctor, numbed: Mary, how - ? 

Mary Warren: I’ll not hang with you! I love God, I love God. 

Danforth, to Mary: He bid you do the Devil’s work? 

Mary Warren, hysterically, indicating Proctor: He come at me by night and every day 
to sign, to sign, to - 


Danforth: Sign what? 



Act Three Parris: The Devil’s book? He come with a book? 119 

Mary Warren, hysterically, pointing at Proctor, fearful of him: My name, he want my name. “I’ll 
murder you,” he says, “if my wife hangs! We must go and overthrow the court,” he says! 

Danforth ’s head jerks toward Proctor, shock and horror in his face. 

Proctor, turning, appealing to Hale: Mr. Hale! 

Mary Warren, her sobs beginning: He wake me every night, his eyes were like coals 
and his fingers claw my neck, and I sign, I sign... 

Hale: Excellency, this child’s gone wild! 

Proctor, as Danforth ’s wide eyes pour on him: Mary, Mary! 

Mary Warren, screaming at him: No, I love God; I go your way no more. I love God, I 
bless God. Sobbing, she rushes to Abigail. Abby, Abby, I’ll never hurt you more! They 
all watch, as Abigail, out of her infinite charity, reaches out and draws the sobbing 
Maty to her, and then looks up to Danforth. 

Danforth, to Proctor: What are you? Proctor is beyond speech in his anger. You are 
combined with anti-Christ, are you not? I have seen your power; you will not deny it! 
What say you, Mister? 

Hale: Excellency - 

Danforth: I will have nothing from you, Mr. Hale! To Proctor: Will you confess 
yourself befouled with Hell, or do you keep that black allegiance yet? What say you? 

Proctor, his mind wild, breathless: I say - 1 say - God is dead' 

Parris: Hear it, hear it! 


Proctor, laughs insanely, then: A fire, a fire is burning! I hear 



120 


The Crucible 


the boot of Lucifer, I see his filthy face! And it is my face, and yours, Danforth! For 
them that quail to bring men out of ignorance, as I have quailed, and as you quail now 
when you know in all your black hearts that this be fraud - God damns our kind 
especially, and we will burn, we will burn together! 

Danforth: Marshal! Take him and Corey with him to the jail! 

Hale, starting across to the door: I denounce these proceedings! 

Proctor: You are pulling Heaven down and raising up a whore! 

Hale: I denounce these proceedings, I quit this court! He slams the door to the 
outside behind him. 

Danforth, calling to him in a fury: Mr. Hale! Mr. Hale! 

THE CURTAIN FALLS 



ACT FOUR 


A cell in Salem jail , that fall. 

At the back is a high barred window; near it, a great, heavy door. Along the 
walls are two benches. 

The place is in darkness but for the moonlight seeping through the bars. It 
appears empty. Presently footsteps are heard com-ing down a corridor beyond 
the wall, keys rattle, and the door swings open. Marshal Herrick enters with a 
lantern. 

He is nearly drunk, and heavy-footed. He goes to a bench and nudges a bundle 
of rags lying on it. 

Herrick: Sarah,, wake up! Sarah Good! He then crosses to the other bench. 

Sarah Good, rising in her rags: Oh, Majesty! Cornin’, cornin’! Tituba, he’s 
here, His Majesty’s come! 

HERRicK.: Go to the north cell; this place is' wanted now. He hangs his lantern 
on the wall. Tituba sits up. 


Tituba: That don’t look to me like His Majesty; look to me like the marshal. 
Herrick, taking out a ask: Get along with you now, clear this 121 



Act Four 

Herrick, grabbing Tituba: Come along, come along. 
Tituba, resisting him: No, he cornin’ for me. I goin' home! 


123 


Herrick, pulling her to the door: That’s not Satan, just a poor old cow with a hatful of 
milk. Come along now, out with you! 

Tituba, calling to the window: Take me home, Devil! Take me home! 

Sarah Good, following the shouting Tituba out: Tell him I’m goin’, Tituba! 
Now you tell him Sarah Good is goin’ too! 

In the corridor outside Tituba calls on - “Take me home, Devil; Devil take me 
home!” and Hopkins ’ voice orders her to move on. Herrick returns and begins 
to push old rags and straw into a corner. Hearing footsteps, he turns, and enter 
Danforth and Judge Hathorne. They are in greatcoats and wear hats against 
the bitter cold. They are followed in by Cheever, who carries a dispatch case 
and a flat wooden box containing his writing materials. 

HERRick Good morning, Excellency. Danforth: Where is Mr. 

Parris? 

Herrick: I’ll fetch him. He starts for the door. 

Danforth: Marshal. Herrick stops. When did Reverend Hale arrive? 

Herrick: It were toward midnight, I think. 

Danforth, suspiciously: %hat is he about here? 

Herrick: He goes among them that will hang, sir. And he prays with them. He 
sits with Goody Nurse now. And Mr. Parris with him. 

Danforth: Indeed. That man have no authority to enter here, Marshal. Why have 
you let him in? 



124 The Crucible 

Herrick: Why, Mr. Parris command me, sir. I cannot deny him. Danforth: Are 
you drunk, Marshal? 

Herrick: No, sir; it is a bitter night, and I have no fire here. Danforth, containing 
his anger: Fetch Mr. Parris. 

Herrick: Aye, sir. 

Danforth: There is a prodigious stench in this place. 

Herrick: I have only now cleared the people out for you. 

Danforth: Beware hard drink, Marshal. 

Herrick: Aye, sir. He waits an instant for further orders. But Danforth, in 
dissatisfaction, turns his back on him, and Herrick goes out. There is a pause. 
Danforth stands in thought. 

Hathome: Let you question Hale, Excellency; I should not be surprised he have 
been preaching in Andover lately. 

Danforth: We’ll come to that; speak nothing of Andover. Parris prays with him. 
That’s strange. He blows on his hands, moves toward the window, and looks 
out. 

Hathome: Excellency, I wonder if it be wise to let Mr. Parris so continuously 
with the prisoners. Danforth turns to him, inter-ested. I think, sometimes, the 
man has a mad look these days. 

Danforth: Mad? 

Hathome: 1 met him yesterday coming out of his house, and I bid him good 
morning - and he wept and went his way. I think it is not well the village sees 
him so unsteady. 

Danforth: Perhaps he have some sorrow. 

Cheever, stamping his feet against the cold: I think it be the cows, sir. 


Danforth: Cows? 



Act Four 


125 


Cheever: There be so many cows wanderin’ the highroads, now their masters are in the 
jails, and much disagreement who they will belong to now. I know Mr. Parris be 
arguin’ with farmers all yesterday - there is great contention, sir, about the cows. 
Contention make him weep, sir; it were always a man that weep for contention. He 
turns, as do Hathorne and Danforth, hearing someone coming up the corridor. 
Danforth raises his head as Parris enters. He is gaunt, frightened, and sweating in his 
greatcoat. 

Parris, to Danforth, instantly: Oh, good morning, sir, thank you 
' for coming, 1 beg your pardon wakin’ you so early. Good mom-ing, Judge Flathorne. 

Danforth: Reverend Flale have no right to enter this - 

Parris: Excellency, a moment. He hurries back and shuts the door. 

Flathorne: Do you leave him alone with the prisoners? 

Danforth: What’s his business here? 

Parris, prayerfully holding up his hands: Excellency, hear me. It is a providence. 
Reverend Flale has returned to bring Rebecca Nurse to God. 

Danforth, surprised: Fie bids her confess? 

Parris, sitting: Flear me. Rebecca have not given me a word this three month since she 
came. Now she sits with him, and her sister and Martha Corey and two or three others, 
and he pleads with them, confess their crimes and save their lives. 

Danforth: Why - this is indeed a providence. And they soften, they soften? 

Parris: Not yet, not yet. But I thought to summon you, sir, that we might think on 
whether it be not wise, to - He dares not ’ 



126 The Crucible 

say it. I had thought to put a question, sir, and I hope you will not - 
Danforth: Mr. Parris, be plain, what troubles you? 

Parris: There is news, sir, that the court - the court must reckon with. My niece, 
sir, my niece - 1 believe she has van-ished. 

Danforth: Vanished! 

Parris: I had thought to advise you of it earlier in the week, but - 
Danforth: Why? How long is she gone? 

Parris: This be the third night. You see, sir, she told me she would stay a night 
with Mercy Lewis. And next day, when she does not return, I send to Mr. Lewis 
to inquire. Mercy told him she would sleep in my house for a night. 

Danforth: They are both gone?! 

Parris, in fear of him: They are, sir. 

Danforth, alarmed: I will send a party for them. Where may they be? 

Parris: Excellency, I think they be aboard a ship. Danforth stands agape. My 
daughter tells me how she heard them speaking of ships last week, and tonight I 
discover my - my strongbox is broke into. He presses his fingers against his 
eyes to keep back tears. 

Hathome, astonished: She have robbed you? 

Parris: Thirty-one pound is gone. I am penniless. He covers his face and sobs. 


Danforth: Mr. Parris, you are a brainless man! He walks in thought, deeply 
worried. 



Act Four 


127 


Parris: Excellency, it profit nothing you should blame me. I cannot think they would run 
off except they fear to keep in Salem any more. He is pleading. Mark it, sir, Abigail had 
close knowledge of the town, and since the news of Andover has broken here - ' 

Danforth: Andover is remedied. The court returns there on Friday, and will 
resume examinations. 

Parris: 1 am sure of it, sir. But the rumor here speaks rebellion in Andover, and 
it - 


Danforth: There is no rebellion in Andover! 

Parris: 1 tell you what is said here, sir. Andover have thrown out the court, they 
say, and will have no part of witchcraft. There be a faction here, feeding on that 
news, and I tell you true, sir, I fear there will be riot here. 

Hathome: Riot! Why at every execution I have seen naught but high satisfaction 
in the town. 

Parris: Judge Hathome - it were another sort that hanged till now. Rebecca 
Nurse is no Bridget that lived three year with Bishop before she married him. 
John Proctor is not Isaac Ward that drank his family to ruin. To Danforth: I 
would to God it were not so, Excellency, but these people have great weight jet 
in the town. Let Rebecca stand upon the gibbet and send up some righteous 
prayer, and I fear she’ll wake a vengeance on 
you. 

Hathome: Excellency, she is condemned a witch. The court have - 

Danforth, in deep concern, raising a hand to Hathome: Pray you. To Parris: 
How do you propose, then? 

Parris: Excellency, I would postpone these hangin’s for a time. Danforth: There 
will be no postponement. 



128 The Crucible 

Parris: Now Mr. Hale’s returned, there is hope, I think - for if he bring even one 
of these to God, that confession surely damns the others in the public eye, and 
none may doubt more that they are all linked to Hell. This way, unconfessed 
and claiming innocence, doubts are multiplied, many honest people will weep 
for them, and our good purpose is lost in their tears. 

Danforth, after thinking a moment, then going to Cheever: Give me the list. 
Cheever opens the dispatch case, searches. 

Parris: It cannot be forgot, sir, that when I summoned the con-gregation for 
John Proctor’s excommnnication there were hardly thirty people come to hear 
it. That speak a discontent, I think, and - 

Danforth, studying the list: There will be no postponement. 

Parris: Excellency - 

Danforth: Now, sir - which of these in your opinion may be brought to God? 1 
will myself strive with him till dawn. He hands she list to Parris, who merely 
glances at it. 

Parris: There is not sufficient time till dawn. 

Danforth: I shall do my utmost. Which of them do you have hope for? 

Parris, not even glancing at the list now, and in a quavering voice, quietly: 
Excellency - a dagger - He chokes up. 

DANFoRth: What do you say? 

Parris: Tonight, when 1 open my door to leave my house - a dagger clattered to 
the ground. Silence. Danforth absorbs this. Now Parris cries out: You cannot 
hang this sort. There is danger for me. I dare not step outside at night! 

Reverend Hale enters. They look at. him for an instant in silence- 



Act Four 


129 


He is steeped in sorrow, exhausted, and more direct than he ever was. 

Danforth: Accept my congratulations, Reverend Hale; we are gladdened to see 
you returned to your good work. 

Hale, coming to Danforth now: You must pardon them. They will not budge. 
Herrick enters, waits. 

Danforth, conciliator) r. You misunderstand, sir; I cannot par-don these when 
twelve are already hanged for the same crime. It is not just. 

Parris, with failing heart: Rebecca will not confess? 

HAr.E: The sun will rise in a few minutes. Excellency, I must have more time. 

Danforth: Now hear me, and beguile yourselves no more. I will not receive a 
single plea for pardon or postponement. Them that will not confess will hang. 
Twelve are already executed; the names of these seven are given out, and the 
village expects to see them die this morning. Postponement now speaks a floun- 
dering on my part; reprieve or pardon must cast doubt upon the guilt of them 
that died till now. While 1 speak God’s law, I will not crack its voice with 
whimpering. If retaliation is your fear, know this - I should hang ten thousand 
that dared to rise against the law, and an ocean of salt tears could not melt the 
resolution of the statutes. Now draw yourselves up like men and help me, as you 
are bound by Heaven to do. Have you spoken with them all, Mr. Hale? 

Hale: All but Proctor. He is in the dungeon. 

Danforth, to Herrick: What’s Proctor’s way now? 

Herrick: He sits like some great bird; you’d not know he lived except he will 
take food from time to time. 



130 The Crucible 


Danforth, after thinking a moment: His wife - his wife must be well on with child now. 
Herrick: She is, sir. 

Danforth: What think you, Mr. Parris? Y ou have closer knowledge of this man; might 
her presence soften him? 

Parris: It is possible, sir. He have not laid eyes on her these three months. I should 
summon her, 

' Danforth, to Herrick: Is he yet adamant? Has he struck at you again? 

Herrick: He cannot, sir, he is chained to the wall now. 

Danforth, after thinking on it: Fetch Goody Proctor to me. Then let you bring him up. 
Herrick: Aye, sir. Herrick goes. There is silence. 

Hale: Excellency, if you postpone a week and publish to the town that you are striving 
for their confessions, that speak mercy on your part, not faltering. 

Danforth: Mr. Hale, as God have not empowered me like Joshua to stop this sun from 
rising, so I cannot withhold from them the perfection of their punishment. 

Hale, harder now: If you think God wills you to raise rebellion, Mr. Danforth, you are 
mistaken! 

Danforth, instantly: You have heard rebellion spoken in the town? 

Hale: Excellency, there are orphans wandering from house to house; abandoned cattle 
bellow on the highroads, the stink of rotting crops hangs everywhere, and no man 
knows when the harlots’ cry will end his life - and you wonder yet if rebellion’s spoke? 
Better you should marvel how they do not bum your province! 



Act Four 


131 


Danforth: Mr. Hale, have you preached in Andover this month? 

Hale: Thank God they have no need of me in Andover. 

Danforth; You baffle me, sir. Why have you returned here? 

Hale: Why, it is all simple. I come to do the Devil’s work. I come to counsel 
Christians they should belie themselves. His sarcasm collapses. There is blood 
on my head! Can you not see the blood on my head! ! 

Parris: Hush! For he has heard footsteps. They all face the door. Herrick enters 
with Elizabeth. Her wrists are linked by heavy chain, which Herrick now 
removes. Her clothes are dirty; her face is pale and gaunt. Herrick goes out. 

Danforth, very politely: Goody Proctor. She is silent. I hope you are hearty? 

Elizabeth, as a warning reminder: I am yet six month before my time. 

Danforth: Pray be at your ease, we come not for your life. We - uncertain how 
to plead, for he is not accustomed to it. Mr. Hale, will you speak with the 
woman? 

Hale: Goody Proctor, your husband is marked to hang this morning, 

Pause. 

Elizabeth, quietly: I have heard it. 

Hale: You know, do you not, that I have no connection with the court? She 
seems to doubt it. I come of my own, Goody Proctor. I would save your 
husband’s life, for if he is taken I count myself hi: murderer. Do you understand 
me? 


Elizabeth: What do you want of me? 



132 


The Crucible 


Hale: Goody Proctor, 1 have gone this three month like our Lord into the wilderness. I 
have sought a Christian way, for damnation’s doubled on a minister who counsels men 
to lie. 

Hathome: It is no lie, you cannot speak of lies. 

Hale: It is a lie! They are innocent! 

Danforth: I’ll hear no more of that! 

Hale, continuing to Elizabeth: Let you not mistake your duty as I mistook my 
own. I came into this village like a bridegroom to his beloved, bearing gifts of 
high religion; the very crowns of holy law I brought, and what I touched with 
my bright confi-dence, it died; and where I turned the eye of my great faith, 
blood flowed up. Beware, Goody Proctor - cleave to no faith when faith brings 
blood. It is mistaken law that leads you to sacrifice. Life, woman, life is God’s 
most precious gift; no principle, however glorious, may justify the taking of it. I 
beg you, woman, prevail upon your husband to confess. Let him give his lie. 
Quail not before God’s judgment in this, for it may well be God damns a liar 
less than he that throws his life away for pride. Will you plead with him? I 
cannot think he will listen to another. 

Elizabeth, quietly: I think that be the Devil’s argument. 

Hale, with a climactic desperation: Woman, before the laws of God we are as 
swine! We cannot read His will! 

Elizabeth: 1 cannot dispute with you, sir; I lack learning for it. 

DANFoRth, going to her: Goody Proctor, you are not sum-moned here for 
disputation. Be there no wifely tenderness within you? He will die with the 
sunrise. Your husband. Do you under-stand it? She only looks at him. What say 
you? Will you contend with him? She is silent. Are you stone? I tell you true, 
woman, had I no other proof of your unnatural life, your dry eyes now would be 
sufficient evidence that you delivered up your soul to 



Act Four 


133 


Hell! A very ape would weep at such calamity! Have the devil dried up any tear of pity 
in you? She is silent. Take her out. It profit nothing she should speak to him! 

Elizabeth, quietly: Let me speak with him, Excellency. 

Parris, with hope: You’ll strive with him? She hesitates. 

Danforth: Will you plead for his confession or will you not? 

Elizabeth: I promise nothing. Let me speak with him. 

A sound - the sibilance of dragging feet on stone. They turn. A pause. Herrick 
enters with John Proctor. His wrists are chained. He is another man, bearded, 
fdthy, his eyes misty as though webs had overgrown them. He halts inside the 
doorway, his eye caught by the sight of Elizabeth. The emotion flowing between 
them prevents anyone from speaking for an instant. Wow Hale, visibly affected, 
goes to Danforth and speaks quietly. 

Hale: Pray, leave them, Excellency. 

Danforth, pressing Rale impatiently aside: Mr. Proctor, you have been notified, 
have you not? Proctor is silent, staring at Elizabeth. I see light in the sky, 
Mister; let you counsel with your wife, and may God help you turn your back 
on Hell. Proctor is silent, staring at Elizabeth. 

Hale, quietly: Excellency, let - 

Danforth brushes past Hale and walks out. Hale follows. Cheever stands and 
follows, Hathorne behind. Herrick goes. Parris, from a safe distance, avers: 

Parris: If you desire a cup of cider, Mr. Proctor, I am sure I - Proctor turns an 
icy stare at him, and he breaks op. Parris raises his palms toward Proctor. God 
lead you now. Parris goes 

Alone. Proctor walks to her, halts. It is as though they stood m a spinning 
world. It is beyond sorrow, above i, ". He reaches out 



134 


The Crucible 


his hand as though toward an embodiment not quite real, and as he touches her, a 
strange soft sound, half laughter, half amazement, comes from his throat. He pats her 
hand. She covers his hand with hers. And then, weak, he sits. Then she sits, facing him. 

Proctor: The child? 

Elizabeth: It Slows. 

Proctor: There is no word of the boys? 

Elizabeth: They’re well. Rebecca’s Samuel keeps them. 

Proctor: Y ou have not seen them? 

Elizabeth: I have not. She catches a weakening in herself and downs it. 

Proctor: Y ou are a - marvel, Elizabeth. 

Elizabeth: You - have been tortured? 

Proctor: Aye. Pause. She will not let herself be drowned in the sea that 
threatens her. They come for my life now. 

Elizabeth: I know it. 

Pause. 

Proctor: None - have yet confessed? 

Elizabeth: There be many confessed. 

Proctor: Who are they? 

Elizabeth: There be a hundred or more, they say. Goody Ballard is one; Isaiah 
Goodkind is one. There be many. 

Proctor: Rebecca? 

Elizabeth: Not Rebecca. She is one foot in Heaven now; naught may hurt her 


more. 



135 


Act Four 

Proctor: And Giles? 

Elizabeth: .You have not heard of it? 

Proctor: I hear nothin’, where I am kept. 

Elizabeth: Giles is dead. 

He looks at her incredulously. 

Proctor: When were he hanged? 

Elizabeth, quietly, factually: Fie were not hanged. Fie would not answer aye or nay to 
his indictment; for if he denied the charge they’d hang him surely, and auction out his 
property. So he stand mute, and died Christian under the law. And so his sons will have 
his farm. It is the law, for he could not be con-demned a wizard without he answer the 
indictment, aye or nay. 

Proctor: Then how does he die? 

Elizabeth, gently: They press him, John. 

Proctor: Press? 

Elizabeth: Great stones they lay upon his chest until he plead aye or nay. With a 
tender smile for the old man: They say he give them but two words. “More 
weight,” he says. And died. 

Proctor, numbed - a thread to weave into his agony: “More weight,” 

Elizabeth: Aye. It were a fearsome man, Giles Corey. 

Pause. 

Proctor, with great force of will, but not quite looking at her: I have been 
thinking I would confess to them, Elizabeth. She shows nothing. What say you? 
If I give them that? 

Elizabeth: I cannot judge you, John. 


Pause. 



136 


The Crucible 


Proctor, simply - a pure question: What would you have me do? 

Elizabeth: As you will, I would have it. Slight pause: I want you living, John. 
That’s sure. 

Proctor, pauses, then with a flailing of hope: Giles’ wife? Have she confessed? 
Elizabeth: She will not. 

Pause. 

Proctor: It is a pretense, Elizabeth. 

Elizabeth: What is? 

Proctor: I cannot mount the gibbet like a saint. It is a fraud. .' am not that man. 
She is silent. My honesty is broke, Elizabeth; I am no good man. Nothing’s 
spoiled by giving them this lie that were not rotten long before. 

Elizabeth: And yet you’ve not confessed till now. That speak goodness in you. 

Proctor: Spite only keeps me silent. It is hard to give a lie to dogs. Pause, for the 
first time he turns directly to her. I would have your forgiveness, Elizabeth, 

Elizabeth: It is not for me to give, John, I am - 

Proctor: I’d have you see some honesty in it. Let them, that never lied die now 
to keep their souls. It is pretense for me, a vanity that will not blind God nor 
keep my children out of the wind. Pause. What say you? 

Elizabeth, upon a heaving sob that always threatens: John, it come to naught 
that I should forgive you, if you’ll not forgive yourself. Now he turns away a 
little, in great agony. It is not my soul, John, it is yours. He stands, as though in 
physical pain, slowly rising to his feet with a great immortal longing to find his 



Act Four 137 answer. It is difficult to say, .and she is on the verge of tears. Only 
be sure of this, for I know it now: Whatever you will do, it is a good man does 
it. He turns his doubting, searching gaze upon her. I have read my heart this 
three month, John. Pause. I have sins of my own to count. It needs a cold wife 

to prompt lechery. 


Proctor, in great pain: Enough, enough - 

Elizabeth, now pouring out her heart; Better you should know me! 

Proctor: I will not hear it! I know you! 

Elizabeth: You take my sins upon you, John - 
Proctor, in agony: No, I take my own, my own! 

Elizabeth: John, I counted myself so plain, so poorly made, no honest love 
could come to me! Suspicion kissed you when I did; I never knew how I should 
say my love. It were a cold house I kept! In fright, she swerves, as Hathorne 
enters. 

Hathorne: What say you, Proctor? The sun is soon up. 

Proctor, his chest heaving, stares, turns to Elizabeth. She comes to him as 
though to plead, her voice quaking. 

Elizabeth: Do what you will. But let none be your judge. There be no higher 
judge under Heaven than Proctor is! Forgive me, forgive me, John - I never 
knew such goodness in the world! She covers her face, weeping. 

Proctor turns from her to Hathorne; he is op the earth, his voice hollow. 

Proctor: I want my life. 

Hathorne, electrified, surprised: You’ll confess yourself? 

Proctor: I will have my life. 


Hathorne, with a mystical tone: God be praised! It is a provi- 



138 


The Crucible 


dence! He rushes out the door, and his voice is heard calling dawn the corridor: He 
will confess! Proctor will confess! 

Proctor, with a cry, as he strides to the door: Why do you cry it? In great pain he turns 
back to her. It is evil, is it not? It is evil. 

Elizabeth, in terror, weeping: I cannot judge you, John, I cannot! 

Proctor: Then who will judge me? Suddenly clasping his hands: God in Heaven, what is 
John Proctor, what is John Proctor? He moves as an animal, and a fury’ is riding in him, 
a tantalized search. I think it is honest, I think so; I am no saint. As though she had 
denied this he calls angrily at her: Let Rebecca go like a saint; for me it is fraud! 

Voices are heard in the hall, speaking together in suppressed excitement. 

Elizabeth: I am not your judge, I cannot be. As though giving him release: Do as you 
will, do as you will! 

Proctor: Would you give them such a lie? Say it. Would you ever give them this? She 
cannot answer. You would not; if tongs of fire were singeing you you would not! It is 
evil. Good, then - it is evil, and I do it! 

Hathorne enters with Danforth, and, with them, Cheever, Parris, and Hale. It is a 
businesslike, rapid entrance, as though the ice had been broken. 

Danforth, with great relief and gratitude: Praise to God, man, praise to God; you shall 
be blessed in Heaven for this. Cheever has hurried to the bench with pen, ink, and 
paper. Proctor watches him. Now then, let us have it. Are you ready, Mr. Cheever? 

Proctor, with a cold, cold horror at their efficiency: Why must it be written? 



Act Four 


139 


Danforth: Why, for the good instruction of the village, Mister; this we shall post upon 
the church door! To Parris, urgently: Where is the marshal? 

Parris, runs to the door and calls down the corridor: Marshal! Hurry! 

Danforth: Now, then, Mister, will you speak slowly, and directly to the point, 
for Mr. Cheever’s sake. He is on record now, and is really dictating to Cheever, 
who writes. Mr. Proctor, have you seen the Devil in your life? Proctor’s jaws 
lock. Come, man, there is light in the sky; the town waits at the scaffold; I 
would give out this news. Did you see the Devil? 

Proctor: I did. 

Parris: Praise God! 

Danforth: And when he come to you, what were his demand? Proctor is silent. 
Danforth helps. Did he bid you to do his work upon the earth? 

Proctor: He did. 

Danforth: And you bound yourself to his service? Danforth turns, as Rebecca 
Nurse enters, with Herrick helping to sup-port her. She is barely able to walk. 
Come in, come in, woman! Rebecca, brightening as she sees Proctor: Ah, John! 
Y ou are well, then, eh? 

Proctor turns his face to the wall. 

DANFoRTh: Courage, man, courage - let her witness your good example that 
she may come to God herself. Now hear it, Goody Nurse! Say on, Mr, Proctor. 
Did you bind yourself to the Devil’s service? 

Rebecca, astonished: Why, John! 


Proctor, through his teeth, his face turned from Rebecca: I did. 



140 The Crucible 


Danforth: Now, woman, you surely see it profit nothin’ to keep this conspiracy any 
further. Will you confess yourself with him? 

REBECCA: Oh, John - God send his mercy on you! 

Danforth: I say, will you confess yourself, Goody Nurse? 

Rebecca: Why, it is a lie, it is a lie; how may I damn myself? I cannot, I cannot. 

Danforth: Mr. Proctor. When the Devil came to you did you see Rebecca Nurse in his 
company? Proctor is silent. Come, man, take courage - did you ever see her with the 
Devil? 

Proctor, almost inaudibly: No. 

Daiforth, now sensing trouble, glances at John and goes to the table, and picks up a 
sheet - the list of condemned. 

Danforth: Did you ever see her sister, Mary Easty, with the Devil? 

Proctor: No, I did not. 

Danforth, his eyes narrow on Proctor: Did you ever see Martha Corey with the Devil? 
Proctor: I did not. 

Danforth, realizing, slowly putting the sheet down: Did you ever see anyone with the 
Devil? 

Proctor: I did not. 

Danforth: Proctor, you mistake me. I am not empowered to trade your life for a lie. You 
have most certainly seen some person with the Devil. Proctor is silent. Mr. Proctor, a 
score of people have already testified they saw this woman with the Devil. 

Proctor: Then it is proved. Why must I say it? 



Act Four 


141 


Danforth: Why “must” you say it! Why, you should rejoice to say it if your soul is truly 
purged of any love for Hell! 

Proctor: They think to go like saints. I like not to spoil their names. 

Danforth, inquiring, incredulous: Mr. Proctor, do you think they go like saints? 

Proctor, evading: This woman never thought she done the Devil’s work. 

Danforth: Look you, sir. I think you mistake your duty here. It matters nothing 
what she thought - she is convicted of the unnatural murder of children, and you 
for sending your spirit out upon Mary Warren. Your soul alone is the issue here, 
Mister, and you will prove its whiteness or you cannot live in a Christian 
country. Will you tell me now what persons conspired with you in the Devil’s 
company? Proctor is silent. To your knowledge was Rebecca Nurse ever - 

Proctor". I speak my own sins; I cannot judge another. Crying out, with hatred: 
I have no tongue for it. 

HALE, quickly to Danforth: Excellency, it is enough he confess himself. Let 
him sign it, let him sign it. 

Parris , feverishly: It is a great service, sir. It is a weighty name; it will strike the 
village that Proctor confess. I beg you, let him sign it. The sun is up, 
Excellency! 

Danforth, considers; then with dissatisfaction, Come, then, sign your testimony. 
To Cheever: Give it to him. Cheever goes to Proctor, the confession and a pen 
in hand. Proctor does not look at it. Come, man, sign it. 

Proctor, after glancing at the confession: You have all wit-nessed it - it is 
enough. 


Danforth: Y ou will not sign it? 



142 


The Crucible 


PROCTOR: You have all witnessed it; what more is needed? 

Danforth: Do you sport with me? You will sign your name or it is no 
confession, Mister! His breast heaving with agonized breathing, Proctor now 
lays the paper down and signs his name. 

Parris: Praise be to the Lord! 

Proctor has just finished signing when Danforth reaches for the paper. But 
Proctor snatches it up, and now a wild terror is rising in him, and a boundless 
anger. 

Danforth , perplexed, but politely extending his hand: If you please, sir. 

Proctor: No. 

Danforth, as though Proctor did not understand: Mr. Proctor, I must have - 

Proctor: No, no. I have signed it, You have seen me. It is done! You have no 
need for this. 

Parris: Proctor, the village must have proof that - 

Proctor: Damn the village! I confess to God, and God has seen my name on 
this! It is enough! 

Danforth: No, sir, it is - 

Proctor: You came to save my soul, did you not? Here! I have confessed 
myself; it is enough! 

Danforth: You have not con - 

Proctor: I have confessed myself! Is there no good penitence but it be public? 
God does not need my name nailed upon the church! God sees my name; God 
knows how black my sins are! It is enough! 

Danforth: Mr. Proctor - 


Proctor: You will not use me! I am no Sarah Good or Tituba, 



Act Four 


143 


I am John Proctor! You will not use me! It is no part of salva-tion that you should use 
me! 

Danforth: I do not wish to - 

Proctor: I have three children - how may I teach them to walk like men in the 
world, and I sold my friends? 

Danforth: Y ou have not sold your friends - 

Proctor: Beguile me not! 1 blacken all of them when this is nailed to the church 
the very day they hang for silence! 

Danforth: Mr. Proctor, I must have good and legal proof that you - 

Proctor: You are the high court, your word is good enough! Tell them I 
confessed myself; say Proctor broke his knees and wept like a woman; say what 
you will, but my name cannot - 

Danforth, with suspicion: It is the same, is it not? If I report it or you sign to it? 

Proctor - he knows it is insane: No, it is not the same! What others say and what 
I sign to is not the same! 

Danforth: Why? Do you mean to deny this confession when you are free? 
Proctor: I mean to deny nothing! 

Danforth: Then explain to me, Mr. Proctor, why you will not let - 

Proctor, with a cry: of his whole soul: Because it is my name! Because I cannot 
have another in my life! Because I lie and sign myself to lies! Because I am not 
worth the dust on the feet of them that hang! How may I live without my name? 
I have given you my soul; leave me my name! 

Danforth, pointing at the confession in Proctor’s hand: Is that document a lie? 
If it is a lie I will not accept it! What say you? 



144 


The Crucible 


I will not deal in lies, Mister! Proctor is motionless. You will give me your honest 
confession in my hand, or I cannot keep you from the rope. Proctor does not reply. 
Which way do you go, Mister? 

His breast heaving, his eyes staring, Proctor tears the paper and crumples it, 
and he is weeping in fury, but erect. 

Danforth: Marshal! 

Parris, hysterically, as though the tearing paper were his life: Proctor, Proctor! 
Hale: Man, you will hang! You cannot! 

Proctor, his eyes fully of tears: I can. And there’s your first marvel, that I can. 
You have made your magic now, for now I do think I see some shred of 
goodness in John Proctor. Not enough to weave a banner with, but white 
enough to keep it from such dogs. Elizabeth, in a burst of terror, rushes to him 
and weeps against his hand. Give them no tear! Tears pleasure them! Show 
honor now, show a stony heart and sink them with it! He has lifted her, and 
kisses her now with great passion. 

Rebecca: Let you fear nothing! Another judgment waits us all! 

Danforth: Hang them high over the town! Who weeps for these, weeps for 
corruption! He sweeps out past them. Herrick starts to lead Rebecca, who 
almost collapses, but Proctor catches her, and she glances up at him 
apologetically. 

Rebecca: I’ve had no breakfast. 

Herrick: Come, man. 


Herrick escorts them out, Hathorne and Cheever behind them. Elizabeth stands 
staring at the empty doorway. 

Parris, in deadly fear, to Elizabeth: Go to him, Goody Proctor! There is yet 
time! 



Act Four 


145 


From outside a drumroll strikes the air. Parris is startled. Eliza-beth jerks about toward 
the window. 

Parris: Go to him! He rushes out the door, as though to hold back his fate. Proctor! 
Proctor! 

Again, a short burst of drums. 

Hale: Woman, plead with him! He starts to rush out the door, and then goes back to 
her. Woman! It is pride, it is vanity. She avoids his eyes, and moves to the window. He 
drops to his knees. Be his helper! - What profit him to bleed? Shall the dust praise him? 
Shall the worms declare his truth? Go to him, take his shame away! 

Elizabeth, supporting herself against collapse, grips the bars, of the window, and with a 
cry: He have his goodness now. God forbid I take it from him! 

The final drumroll crashes, then heightens violently. Hale weeps in frantic prayer, and 
the new sun is pouring in upon her face, and the drums rattle like bones in the morning 
air. 


THE CURTAIN FALLS 



ECHOES DOWN THE CORRIDOR 


Not long after the fever died, Parris was voted from office, walked out on the 
highroad, and was never heard of again. 

The legend has it that Abigail turned up later as a prostitute in Boston. 

Twenty years after the last execution, the government awarded compensation to the 
victims still living, and to the families of the dead, However, it is evident that some 
people still were unwilling to admit their total guilt, and also that the factionalism was 
still alive, for some beneficiaries were actually not victims at all, but informers. 

Elizabeth Proctor married again, four years after Proctor’s death. 

In solemn meeting, the congregation rescinded the excommunica-tions - this in 
March 1712. But they did so upon orders of the government. The jury, however, wrote a 
statement praying forgive-ness of all who had suffered. 

Certain farms which had belonged to the victims were left to ruin, and for more than 
a century no one would buy them or live on them. 

To all intents and purposes, the power of theocracy in Massachu-setts was broken. 



THE CRUCIBLE 


A PLAY BY ARTHUR MILLER STAGED BY JED 
HARRIS 

CAST (in order of appearance) 

Reverend Orris Betty Parris Tituba Abigail Williams SUSANNA 
WALCOTT Mrs. Ann PUTNnaM Thomas Putnam Mercy Lewis Mary 
WARREN John Proctor Rebecca Nurse Giles Corky Reverend John Hh.LE 
Elizabeth Proctor Facets Nvasa Ezekiel Cheever Marshal Herrick Judge 
Hawthorne Deputy Governor Danforth Sarah Good Hopkins 
Coolidge Walter Hampden Adele Fortin Donald Marye 

The settings were designed by Boris Aronson. The costumes were made and designed 

by Edith Lutyens. 

Presented by Kermit Bloomgarden at the Martin Beck Theatre in New York on January 22, 1953. 


Fred Stewart Janet Alexander 



APPENDIX 


Acr Two, Scene 2 


A wood. Night. 

Proctor enters with lantern, glowing behind him, then halts, holding lantern raised. 
Abigail appears with a wrap over her nightgown, her hair down. A moment of 
questioning silence. 

Proctor, searching: I must speak with you, Abigail. She does not move, staring at him. 
Will you sit? 

Abigail: How do you come? 

Proctor: Friendly. 

Abigail, glancing about: I don’t like the woods at night. Pray you, stand closer. He 
comes closer to her. I knew it must be you. When I heard the pebbles on the window, 
before I opened up my eyes I knew. Sits on log. I thought you would come a good time 
sooner. 

Proctor: I had thought to come many times. 

Abigail: Why didn’t you? I am so alone in the world now. 

Proctor, as a fact, not bitterly: Are you! I’ve heard that people ride a hundred mile to 
see your face these days. 

Abigail: Aye, my face. Can you see my face? 

Proctor, holds lantern to her face: Then you’re troubled? 


148 



Appendix 

Abigail: Have you come to mock me? 


149 


Proctor, sets lantern on ground. Sits next to her: No, no, but I hear only that you go to the tavern 
every night, and play shovel-board with the Deputy Governor, and they give you cider. 

Abigail: I have once or twice played the shovelboard. But I have no joy in it. 

Proctor: This is a surprise, Abby. I’d thought to find you gayer than this. I’m told a 
troop of boys go step for step with you wherever you walk these days. 

Abigail: Aye, they do. But I have only lewd looks from the boys. 

Proctor: And you like that not? 

Abigail: I cannot bear lewd looks no more, John. My spirit’s changed entirely. I ought 
be given Godly looks when I suffer for them as I do. 

Proctor: Oh? How do you suffer, Abby? 

Abigail, pulls up dress : Why, look at my leg. I’m holes all over from their damned 
needles and pins. Touching her stomach: The jab your wife gave me’s not healed yet, 
y’know. 

Proctor, seeing her madness now: Oh, it isn’t. 

Abigail'. I think sometimes she pricks it open again while I sleep. 

Proctor: Ah? 

Abigail: And George Jacobs - sliding up her sleeve - he comes again and again and raps 
me with his stick - the same spot every night all this week. Look at the lump I have. 
PROCTOr: Abby - George Jacobs is in the jail all this month. 

Abigail: Thank God he is, and bless the day he hangs and lets 



150 


The Crucible 


me sleep in peace again! Oh, John, the world’s so full of hypo-crites! Astonished, 
outraged: They pray in jail! I’m told they all pray in jail! 

Proctor: They may not pray? 

Abigail: And torture me in my bed while sacred words are cornin’ from their 
mouths? Oh, it will need God Himself to cleanse this town properly! 

Proctor: Abby - you mean to cry out still others? 

Abigail: If I live, if I am not murdered, I surely will, until the last hypocrite is 
dead. 

Proctor: Then there is no good? 

Abigail: Aye, there is one. You are good. 

Proctor: Am I! How am I good? 

Abigail: Why, you taught me goodness, therefore you are good. It were a fire 
you walked me through, and all my ignorance was burned away. It were a fire, 
John, we lay in fire. And from that night no woman dare call me wicked any 
more but I knew my answer. I used to weep for my sins when the wind lifted up 
my skirts; and blushed for shame because some old Rebecca called ,me loose. 
And then you burned my ignorance away. As bare as some December tree I saw 
them all - walking like saints to church, running to feed the sick, and hypocrites 
in their hearts! And God gave me strength to call them liars, and God made men 
to listen to me, and by God 1 will scrub the world clean for the love of Him! Oh, 
John, I will make you such a wife when the world is white again! She kisses his 
hand. Y ou will be amazed to see me every day, a light of heaven in your house, 
a - He rises, backs away amazed. Why are you cold? 

Proctor: My wife goes to trial in the morning, Abigail. 

ABIGAIL, distantly: Your wife? 



Appendix 


151 


Proctor: Surely you knew of it? 

AaraAii.: I do remember it now. How - how - Is she well? 

Proctor: As well as she may be, thirty-six days in that place. 

AaroAtr.: You said you came friendly. 

Proctor: She will not be condemned, Abby. 

Abigail: You brought me from my bed to speak of her? 

Proctor: I come to tell you, Abby, what I will do tomorrow in the court. I would 
not take you by surprise, but give you all good time to think on what to do to 
save yourself. 

Abigail: Save myself! 

Proctor: If you do not free my wife tomorrow, I am set and bound to ruin you, 
Abby. 

Abigail, her voice small - astonished: How - ruin me? 

Proctor: I have rocky proof in documents that you knew that poppet were none 
of my wife’s; and that you yourself bade Mary Warren stab that needle into it. 

Abigail - 0 wildness stirs in her, a child is standing here who is unutterably 
frustrated, denied her wish, but she is still grasping for her wits: 1 bade Mary 
Warren - ? 

PRoc ToR: You know what you do, you are not so mad! 

Abigail: Oh, hypocrites! Have you won him, too? John, why do you let them 
send you? 

Proctor: I warn you, Abby! 

Abigail: They send you! They steal your honesty and - 
Proctor: I have found my honesty! 

Abigail: No, this is your wife pleading, your sniveling, envious 



152 


The Crucible 


wife! This is Rebecca’s voice, Martha Corey’s voice. You were no hypocrite! 

Proctor: I will prove you for the fraud you are! 

Abigail: And if they ask you why Abigail would ever do so murderous a deed, 
what will you tell them? 

Proctor: I will tell them why. 

AatoAn,: What will you tell? You will confess to fornication? In the court? 

Proctor: If you will have it so, so I will tell it! She utters a disbelieving laugh. I 
say I will! She laughs louder, now with more assurance he will never do it. He 
shakes her roughly. If you can still hear, hear this! Can you hear! She is 
trembling, staring up at him as though he were out of his mind. You will tell the 
court you are blind to spirits; you cannot see them any more, and you will never 
cry witchery again, or I will make you famous for the whore you are! 

Abigail, grabs him: Never in this world! I know you, John - you are this 
moment singing secret hallelujahs that your wife will hang! 

Proctor, throws her down: You mad, you murderous bitch! 

Abigail: Oh, how hard it is when pretense falls! But it falls, it falls! She wraps 
herself up as though to go. Y ou have done your duty by hei. I hope it is your 
last hypocrisy. I pray you will come again with sweeter news for me. I know 
you will - now that your duty’s done. Good night, John. She is backing away, 
raising her hand in farewell. Fear naught. I will save you tomorrow. As she 
turns and goes: From yourself I will save you. She is gone. Proctor is left alone, 
amazed, in terror . Takes up his lantern and slowly exits. 


THE CRUCIBLE 

Arthur Miller was bom in New York City in 1915 and studied at the 
University of Michigan. His plays include Death of a Salesman 
(1949), The Crucible (1953), A Memory of Two Mondays (1955), 
After the Fall (1963), Incident at Vichy (1964), The Price (1968), and 
The Creation of the World and Other Business (1972). He has also 
written two novels, Focus (1945), and The Misfits, which was filmed 
in 1960, and the text for In Russia (1969) and In the Country, books 
of photographs by his wife, Inge Morath. The Theater Essays of 
Arthur Miller, edited by Robert A. Martin, was published in 1978. His 
most recent works are Timebends, a memoir, and Danger: Memory’! 
Two Plays. He has twice won the New York Drama Critics Circle 
Award, and in 1949 he was awarded the Pulitzer Prize.